Monday, 25 June 2018

15 MORE Tips For Visiting Disneyland Paris

If you're a long term reader of my blog, you may think this post is a little familiar and you'd be right...I HAVE written a Tips For Visiting Disneyland Paris post before.

But although I stand by all of those tips and they're a good jumping off point for first timers, it's been almost 2 years since I wrote it now and we've visited four times since - so I've picked up a lot of new tips and ideas for making visits run smoothly since which is exactly what I'm going to be sharing with you today!

So without further ado, let's jump straight in!

1) Make Use Of The Park Apps - But Don't Completely Rely On Them

I have the official Disneyland Paris app on my phone which I tend to use to check the times of shows, what time meet & greets are ending, and for locating the closest bathrooms to wherever we are in the park.

It also allows you to check the wait times for rides, but I personally never found it to be all that accurate.

I preferred to use another app called Park Pal for keeping an eye on ride times, as this one seemed to be more up to date for some reason.

Having said that, I would advise against relying 100% on any of the apps when it comes to ride wait times.

There were quite a few occasions when the apps told us there was a 25 minute wait for Pirates Of The Caribbean (Our boys favourite ride!) but as we were in the area anyway, we popped over to double check and found the wait time was actually 5 minutes (and was less than that inside!).

So by all means, use them as a guide but if you're close to a ride you're in the mood for - pop over and have a look just incase, you never know - you might get lucky!

2) Follow ED92 on Twitter for Updates & Pop Up Meet & Greets

ED92 is a Twitter account which posts updates about things that are going on in the park daily in real time.
 They are a great way to find out about unplanned meet & greets, as well as any cancellations to planned events or parades and the appearance of other fun little pop up things such as the talking dustbin that is sometimes out and about in Walt Disney Studios.

I forgot to turn the notifications on last time we visited, and I fully blame this for the fact that I never managed to find the pop up Villager Belle meet on time.

Bonus Tip: Turn OFF the notifications the second you get home, or it will just add to the god awful Post-Disney Blues that you're bound to experience!

3) Stand Near The Small World Gates To Increase Your Chances Of Being Picked As "Family Of Honour"

Every day (or most days at least?) the Disney cast members choose a Family Of Honour from the crowd at the main parade time. The family is driven down the parade route before the parade begins in a fancy open top car to wave at the waiting crowds, and it then dropped off at a special viewing spot right at the top of Main Street. The cast in the parade then tend to make a real fuss of whomever is in the special viewing spot, giving lots of character interaction - which must be amazing!

There's no 100% foolproof way to be chosen as Family Of Honour (I wish there was, we've never managed it!) but people say that standing near the start of the parade by Its A Small World is the best place to be to increase your chances. There also tends to be a higher chance if your children are dressed up in costumes, but again - it's never a guarantee!

This is a goal of mine...fingers crossed, hey!

4)  Be There For The Ride Opening At Pirates

This is another one we've never personally managed to do ourselves, because my children are NOT early risers and we're rarely in the parks at the right time but if you have little Pirate fans - this is certainly one to try! I can't 100% confirm this is still happening, but I certainly plan to be first in the queue one day to find out!

It's said that at around 10 am when the Pirates Of The Caribbean is opened by the cast members they  choose a family from the crowd (usually the first family in the queue, but not always) to open the Treasure Chest - inside there's a scroll, chocolate coins and fast passes which enable the family to ride Pirates without queuing all day!

Again, I can't 100% confirm this but I've known it to happen to a good few people worth a try!

5) Know About "The Secret Spot"

If you're a member of any of the Facebook groups, no doubt you'll be aware of the worst kept secret in history - The Secret Spot!

On days when the Princess Waltz is on, go to Auberge De Cendrillon restaurant just before and go through the courtyard to the gates - there the Princesses will pass you by as they make their way to the Castle Stage. If your little one is dressed as a particular Princess, that Princess will usually come over for a few seconds to give a quick hello and maybe even a cuddle.

6) Make A List Of "Must Dos" & Pick Up A Programme!

The first thing we do on our first day is pick up a Programme (they have in the main hall you walk through as you enter Disneyland Park) - its handy to have for planning out all of the things we want to see and do during our visit, and saves us pulling our phones out to check on times and locations of meets constantly too.

You can also download the current programme here:

They don't often change too much from week to week - the main changes usually only occur when one Season ends and another begins, so they can be handy if you like to plan your trip out before you arrive.

The level of time planning you do is up to you - some people prefer to wing it, but I like to plan out most of our days like clockwork to make sure we see and do everything we want to!

One thing I'd say you should do is make a list of the most IMPORTANT things that you definitely want to see/do - and get them done early on in your trip.

There is just so much to fit in that I find I always end up missing something if we don't plan our days - and the thing we miss is pretty much always the thing I wanted to do! It took me three trips to finally see the 25th Anniversary Show because it was only on twice a day!

7) Dress Up Costumes For The Kids = Potential Extra Perks!

Although dress up costumes are sadly (but understandably!)  banned in the parks for anybody over the age of 12 for safety reasons, children are allowed and even encouraged to dress up as their favourite Disney characters - and I HIGHLY recommend that they do!

When little ones are dressed up in their Disney finest, you will find that they get some really great interaction and extra attention from the Disney characters during the parades - for example, here is my little one dressed as Elsa at the main parade - as you can see, Kristoff came running over straight to him to give him a cuddle!

This has happened on both occasions that he dressed as Elsa, and I've seen tons of children dressed as Disney characters getting waves and kisses blown to them by the relevant characters - and lots of the other parade characters too!

It's also well worth while dressing up in the theme of any of the Meet & Greets you have planned for that day - when my son met Woody he dressed in his Woody outfit and the interaction he got was fab! Woody spent a little extra time with him than he had on other meets, so it's really worth the effort in my opinion.

 If your child isn't keen on dressing up then taking a themed toy along the meets also adds to the interaction - my son took a Zurg toy to the Buzz Lightyear meet & greet and this made for some great banter with Buzz pretending to drop kick Zurg into space! My son was delighted!

It's also worth noting that certain rides are known to give all day fast pass entrance to children who dress in costumes relevant to that ride - for example, children dressed as Peter Pan or Tinkerbell have often been given all day fast pass entry to Peter Pan's Flight. This is never guaranteed and is at the discretion of whoever is running the ride that day, and shouldn't be asked for - but it's worth keeping in mind when choosing your dress up options!

And apart from anything else - kids in costumes at Disneyland makes for some really sweet photo opportunities!

8) Use The Less Obvious Routes Around The Park

It took us until our fifth visit to start to really get to grips with the layout of the park and start finding pathways that were very quiet and hardly used.
 As Disney can get super busy it comes in really handy to know where these quieter routes are!
The majority of people get from land to land by going through the castle into Fantasyland and finding their way around from there, but it's far better if you're heading to Frontierland to use the lesser known walkways which you'll find to the left of the exit from Liberty Arcade.
 They are also under cover so handy to use if its a damp day!

There are also quite routes through to Discoveryland to the right of Its A Small World which bring you out at Star Tours.

9) Don't Bother With The Disney Railroad

I'm always amazed by the length of the queues I see at the Disney Railroad stations and I often wonder why people bother to wait in them when the stations are usually a little walk out of the way of the main routes and probably don't save very much walking time at all.

Don't get me wrong - it's a pleasant ride, and if you're a fan of train rides then by all means go for it - it's also sometimes just nice to sit down for 10 minutes and rest your feet!

But if you're taking the train thinking it's going to save you a long walk, it's probably not worth the wait to be honest.

10) Learn The Usual Pop Up Spots For Favourite Characters

Just incase you don't manage to catch the ED92 updates about the pop-up unlisted meet & greets, it's worth knowing the usual places that your favourite characters tend to be.

For example, Belle in her villager costume usually does surprise Meet & Greets by The Old Mill in Fantasyland and Winnie The Pooh characters often do them either by the Casey Jnr ride or by Its A Small World.
You'll also often find Alice In Wonderland characters doing meets near the Mad Hatters Tea Cups or Alice's Curious Labyrinth, and Maleficent can occasionally be found in or near Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

11) Try Princess Pavilion Later In The Day

The queue for Princess Pavilion is usually the longest queue in the park on a daily basis - you can wait around 1 and a half to Two Hours on average to have a meet & greet with a Princess, which is an incredibly long time to wait with little ones in tow.

The Pavilion opens during Extra Magic Hours and the queues are usually really long within minutes, so it can be almost impossible to beat the rush.

I've braved the Princess Pavilion with my boys three times now, and each time we decided to take the opposite approach to most and go to the Pavilion later in the day rather than early on....and so far, it's worked well for us!

We usually head there at around 3.30pm and I've never had to wait for longer than 45 minutes, which is still a long wait but is FAR better than waiting for 2 hours!

12) Use A Lanyard!

When you visit the park, especially as a Disney hotel guest, you end up carrying a fair few annoying bits of paper with you - your park tickets which you need to show every day for entry to each park or your annual passes if you have them, your extra magic hours pass which is a little piece of paper, your photo pass card if you have one, your hotel room key card, etc.

You tend to have to access these at lots of occasions during the day, and so putting them in and out of wallets or purses constantly is annoying.

On our last trip, I bought a lanyard and plastic wallet from one of the hotel shops and it's made life SO MUCH easier! It holds all of the bits of paper and cards we need, and they're right there when I need them...and I don't need to worry about them falling out of wallets either!

13) Make Good Use Of Parade & Illuminations Times

The parade and illuminations are AMAZING and are absolutely not to be missed - but obviously, they are the same every day so decide on whether you want to watch them each day or just once or twice during your trip.

We tend to watch the parade twice, and the illuminations just once during each visit - which then enables us to use those times on the other days to take advantage of the low queue times on the rides while everybody else is watching them!

The rides in Fantasyland all close around an hour or so before the Fireworks start, but Frontierland and Discoverland usually stay open meaning you can get some rides on the likes of Pirates, Buzz, Haunted Mansion etc in while everyone is grabbing their spots for Illuminations!

14) Don't Rush Out For The Shuttle Buses

You find that once Illuminations ends, everybody makes a rush for the exits all at once - it's manic and can be quite brutal with people pushing and buggies being rammed into the backs of your feet!

You also tend to find that huge crowds of people are all rushing to the shuttle buses, where it then becomes a free for all as people try to elbow their way on to the buses as though it's their last hope of getting back to their hotel.

But unless you have a real reason to hurry back - just chill! The park doesn't chuck people out the second the last firework goes off, the shops remain open for a little while so that you can enjoy a browse and it's actually kind of nice to be one of the last people in the park when all the pretty lights on Main Street are lit up.

The shuttle buses also usually run until about 1 or 2 am (check the times with security to be sure), so there's no reason to panic. The buses are lovely and quiet after a little while too so instead of being carried out in the crowd and being pushed and shoved out of the way for a seat on the shuttle...just hang back a bit, take your time in the park, browse the shops, take a "last people in Disney" selfie and go get on a nice quiet shuttle bus with loads of seats free instead!

15) Don't Forget To Enjoy The Disney Village and Hotels Too!

And finally, don't forget to have a look around the Disney village too. Most people only factor in the main Disneyland Park and Disney Studios to their trip, but there is so much to see and do in the Disney village.

There are tons of lovely shops (World Of Disney is not to be missed and The Lego Shop is a favourite stop for my kids, they love the chance to just have a play with the Lego!), a video arcade, a sports bar, some great restaurants, a McDonalds, the Hot air Balloon over the lake, and lots of fab little food vans too selling everything from delicious Waffles & pretzels, to yummy chocolate dipped marshmallows and lollies!

The Disney hotels are also worth a look, Disneyland Hotel is beautiful - even the lobby is worth a look and if you go in around 4pm you can see the characters coming down the grand staircase. There's a lovely bar with a pianist playing Disney songs too which is a nice place to sit and unwind with a cocktail at the end of the day.

There are bars and restaurants and some nice play areas in all of the other hotels too, and Hotel Cheyenne does pony rides in the mornings during the peak months which my boys absolutely loved!


I hope you've found these tips helpful!

Don't forget to check out my original Disneyland Paris Tips post and my Tips For Finding A Cheaper Break To Disneyland Paris too!

I'll also be back next week with a post specifically about How To Do Disneyland Paris On A Budget full of money saving tips and suggestions!

If video is more your thing, I've also done some Disney Tips videos which you can find below!

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