Visiting Disneyland Paris is a fantastic way to spend a day – and a fortune, as I found out a couple of years back when my girlfriend and I were backpacking through Europe on roughly 80 Euros ($100US) per day.
Our budget be damned; I was determined to fulfil my childhood ambition of visiting monsieur and mademoiselle mouse at Disneyland, not to mention Donald, Goofy, Pluto and the rest of the gang.
A big kid at Disneyland Paris
Even the oldest, coldest, grumpiest man in the world feels like a kid again when they pass through the front gates at Disneyland and see that iconic castle in the distance.
I certainly wasn’t immune to the park’s charms.
Buoyed with child-like energy, I immediately whipped around the park a couple of times, posing for photos with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck before deciding which of the many wonderful rides I’d queue up for.
In the end, I went with some of the theme park’s most iconic rides: the tea cups, the flying elephants, Pirates of the Caribbean and, of course, It’s a Small World – a ride well-suited for world travellers like myself.
Later, I caught the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster – an indoor rollercoaster that really gets the heart racing and the adrenaline pumping.
The highlight of my day, though, was eating a hamburger in the shape of Mickey Mouse.
It’s nearly impossible to see and do everything at Disneyland Paris in a single day. And that’s coming from someone who successfully did Cambodia’s Angkor Wat in one day – a feat that all good guidebooks recommend you shouldn’t even attempt. But I digress.
Disneyland Paris is actually made up of three medium-to-large size recreational areas all adjacent to one another: Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park and Disney Village as well as seven on-site hotels and resorts.
The former is the main park – teacups and flying elephant rides, that sort of thing – while Walt Disney Studios Park is a theme park under the guise of a working film studio and Disney Village is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex.
You have to see it all – just for the novelty factor alone – but you’re not going to be able to do all the rides, no matter how much you might like to. And that, my friends, is down to one overwhelming factor: the lines.
Surviving Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is the fourth most popular theme park in the world and the most visited one in France. Suffice it to say, the lines are not to be taken lightly. Expect to queue from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave; queues so long that they make the lines to get up the Eiffel Tower look puny in comparison.
Fortunately Disneyland Paris’ Fastpass service can take some of the pain out of standing in line to go on Space Mountain, say, or The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the Disney Studios Park. How it works is you book a slot at a Fastpass machine and return to the ride at the designated time.
The big flaw, however, is you can only have one Fastpass ticket per person at any one time – so choose your rides carefully.
Having said that, I was too silly to take any notice of the Fastpass system and, as a result, I had to queue up with all the other suckers. Regardless, I had a fantastic time.
Disneyland Paris is in Marne-la-Vallee, a town roughly 32km (20 miles) from the centre of Paris, France. Trains run roughly every 15 minutes from five central Paris RER A Stations: Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Auber, Chatelet Les Halles, Gare de Lyon and Nation. For more information consult the Paris by Train website.