Disneyland Paris Guide / Review: Can it be done in one day? What we spent, money saving tips & is it worth it?

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Holiday: September 2023

Whether Disneyland Paris is ‘worth it’ really depends on when you’re able to travel, your family’s interests and how Disney mad your little ones are. Here’s what we thought, when we visited in September for the first time – and hopefully I’ve answered any questions that you may have about a Disneyland Paris holiday too!

This Disneyland Paris Guide / Review will look at:

  • Can it be done in a day?
  • What we spent – and is it worth it?
  • How can I save money on my Disneyland Paris holiday? (How to do Disneyland on a budget!)
  • Accommodation options – including on resort, hotels and Eurocamp campsites nearby
  • How much food costs at Disneyland
  • Who is it suitable for?
  • Is Disneyland Paris good? (Highlights and negatives)
  • And lots more!

 

Where is Disneyland Paris located?

Disneyland Paris is located in Marne-la-Vallée, which is a suburb about 32 kilometers (20 miles) east of the centre of Paris. Here’s the address you’ll need: Disneyland Paris Boulevard de Parc 77700 Coupvray France.

The resort is easily accessible from the centre of Paris by car, train or other public transportation options – you can take a train to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station, which is right next to the park.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, main street at night lit up

 

Can Disneyland Paris be done in one day?

Absolutely! We only did the main park, and one day was plenty – getting there first thing and leaving after the firework display when the park was closing. It was a long, tiring day (especially as we visited during a 33 degree heatwave!) so we found one day was enough – and we needed a rest afterwards!

We managed to get on everything that the kids wanted to get on, and watch the parade too – which was definitely a highlight of the day. The average queue times around the park on the day that we visited seemed to be around 45-60 minutes.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, elsa and anna, frozen parade

Having said that, if you have younger children who tire easily, you might want to consider having more than one day to allow time for naps, resting at your hotel, an earlier bed time and for little legs to have a bit longer to get around the park.

There were also pretty long queues for meeting some of the characters – my two were too old to be interested in that side of things really – so you might need a little longer if you children want to do that too.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, children with storm trooper

Disneyland Paris can get very crowded so if you’re not a fan of large crowds or long wait times, then try to visit out of season and during quieter periods. Busier days may also prevent you from having the time to see and do everything in a day – so you may need a longer visit if you’re going there during peak times.

With a priority pass the wait time for the rides could be as little as 5 minutes – though the cost is insane – they’re €120 per person for one day! However, these are available for free to people with disabilities (and their family) if you apply for a card in advance. I must add that Disney seemed very well set up to be accessible to people with disabilities – they’ve really gone out of their way to be inclusive which was brilliant to see.

 

Which Disneyland Paris park is better – Disneyland or Walt Disney Studios?

Disneyland Paris is made up of two parks – the main Disneyland Park and the next door Walt Disney Studios. A bit of research showed that the studios looked to be aimed at younger children, and had fewer rides and less going on than the main park – so we didn’t want the additional cost incurred with visiting the studios too. And if (like us) you only have one day, definitely pick the main park. However, if you’re opting for a longer trip and want the full experience you might want to do both.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, children on rollercoaster

 

What’s Disneyland Paris like?

The main Disneyland Park features a wide range of attractions, from thrill-seeker rides like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, to family-friendly adventures like Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World. There are also character meet-and-greets, parades and live entertainment.

The park is divided into themed lands, including Main Street, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Discoveryland and Frontierland – each land has its own unique attractions, restaurants and atmosphere. There’s a lot of attention to detail even in the spaces for queueing and to the areas surrounding the rides. I think that’s what makes Disneyland unique and it’s an interesting place with lots to see as you wander around. We did 24,000 steps during our 12 hour one day visit!

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, main street at night lit up

 

Who is Disneyland suitable for? Are the rides scary?

The park has something to suit adults and kids of all ages, though I think it’s more geared up to slightly younger children than ours. For instance, there’s a whole fantasy world with fairground style rides and things suited to little ones, as well as other bits like play parks dotted around the park.

Having said that, the big thrill rides are certainly not for the faint hearted, and attractions like Hyper Space Mountain are definitely suited to older kids and adults. (I have to admit I came off that one feeling a bit sick!) But there were fewer adult / older kid attractions than I thought there would be.

In hindsight, we were left wondering if we should have taken the kids a bit sooner – at 10 and 12 they still had a great time but perhaps missed out a bit on the Disney magic that they would have enjoyed when they were younger.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, inside pirates of the Caribbean ride

 

Are the Disneyland Paris fireworks every night?

Yes!! It doesn’t matter when you visit, the fireworks at Disneyland Paris are on every night, so you’ll get to enjoy them whenever you visit. Earlier in the day, the kids were debating whether they had the energy to wait around until late for the fireworks, as there’s a gap between those and the rides closing and they were hot and tired, but we were so glad we stayed!

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, castle and fireworks at night

 

Is Disneyland Paris good – what makes it special?

For us the light and firework show was the icing on the cake, and our favourite part of the day. It ran from 9.20-9.50pm and it was just spectacular – for me this is what makes Disneyland stand out from the crowd compared to other theme parks.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, castle and light display at night

The parade was fantastic too – Lola in particular absolutely loved it! It really helped us to get in the Disney mood, and the floats and characters were just brilliant! It’s hard not to feel happy when you’re surrounded by Disney characters and music!

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, lion king parade float

With the rides and attractions, The Thunder Train rollercoaster was a favourite – not too tame but not as crazy as a couple of the others we ventured on. Space Mountain was a step too far for me! 😂 Plus, the rides themselves are a decent length and not over in seconds, which makes waiting for them more rewarding.

 

What are the negatives of a trip to Disneyland?

Well the first negative, and probably the most obvious, is the cost – Disneyland Paris is extremely expensive. We didn’t find the tickets too much different in price than other attractions (we visited off peak and during the week) but everything inside once you step through the gates is astronomically expensive – they even charge an extra fee for the car park.

It was also extremely hot when we visited – a heatwave bringing it to 33 degrees – and there are no water areas or rides, nor much seating in the shade without sitting on walls or the floor. The cost of ice-cream was frustrating too when we were melting and wanted nothing but to consume something cold!

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, children with ice cream

 

Can you leave and come back to Disneyland Paris?

With your tickets, you’re able to come and go as you please until they expire. This means that you can return to your hotel for a rest, pop to your car, or head out of the park for a meal etc and re-enter later in the day. We noticed quite a lot of people re-entered the park in the evening for the fireworks, so if you’re staying for more than one day and can take your time, then it makes things less tiring if you have little ones.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, main street at night with castle

 

Can you bring food? Is the meal plan worth it?

Disneyland Paris offers a wide variety of dining options, from quick-service and snack kiosks to fine dining restaurants. You can enjoy cuisine from around the world as well as classic theme park / fast food type meals. The food onsite was very expensive – as were the meal plans – so we avoided proper ‘restaurant’ type options.

You’re not supposed to bring a full on picnic to Disneyland, but they aren’t bothered about you bringing in snacks. I packed fruit, homemade flapjack and crisps to keep us going, and we had a big breakfast at our hotel first thing, so that we only needed to buy one meal. There were places to refill water bottles around the park too.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, disneyland castle in the day time, summer

 

How much is the food at Disneyland Paris?

For our one meal bought on-site, we opted for fast-food type food (the prices in the proper restaurants were insane!) and still spent about €60 on what was the equivalent of McDonald’s. (Though we were under no illusion about this and did come prepared to get ripped off!) A bottle of water was €3, normal ice-lollies were about €4 and Mr-Whippy ones were around €7!

I did have a look at a menu outside of one of the ‘real’ restaurants (we ate in the large food court area) and I’ve popped a photo in below. As a family of four it would have cost us €170! So, if you do want to enjoy the restaurants then make sure you save a good stash of spending money well in advance.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum photo, restaurant food prices, menu

 

Should I stay on the Disneyland Paris resort?

Disneyland Paris has on-site hotels, but there are also lots of accommodation options in the surrounding area too. Consider the convenience and cost of staying on-site versus off-site, and how likely you’d be to need to head back to your hotel to rest based on the age and needs of your children. Staying on-site may also come with extra perks, like early access to the parks.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, fairies in parade

We opted to stay off of the resort at Novotel Marne La Vallee Collegien to keep costs down – it was about a 15 minute drive away from Disneyland Paris. The route in and parking at Disneyland were both simple – though we did have to pay for it. (It’s free if you use their accommodation.) We really liked the hotel – it was quiet, comfortable and an enjoyable place to stay. It also had a pool which the kids enjoyed when we arrived the day before our Disney visit.

Other than convenience, there are benefits to staying on-site as the themed hotels offer lots of perks for young Disney fans, so it’s just a case of weighing up whether you feel it’s worth the additional expense. For us, we travel as much as possible so we like to make our trips as cost effective as we can.

Eurocamp also have two campsites in the area – I think if we’d been staying for longer (or having more than a day at Disneyland) then that’s probably the option that we’d have gone for. Eurocamp sites are usually way more cost effective than hotels, plus they give the option of extra facilities (swimming pools etc) and space to relax, as well as everything that you need to self-cater which really keeps food costs down.

The Eurocamp campsites closest to Disneyland are: La Croix du Vieux Pont and Paris-EstBoth of these campsites are conveniently located just 30 minutes away from Disneyland Paris, and also only 12km from central Paris if you’d like to do some exploring there too – perhaps a visit to the Eiffel Tower? So if you’re looking for a full week of family holidaying, but only visiting Disneyland for a day or two, then a Eurocamp base like one of these would be a great option.

You can find out more about the Eurocamp campsites closest to Disneyland Paris here: Disneyland Paris Camping.

If you’ve not used Eurocamp before, you can read more about it in my Eurocamp Guide – we’ve stayed at lots of their campsites so I’ve become a bit of a Eurocamp expert!

Check out my article: A complete review / guide for Eurocamp holidays to answer questions like:

eurocamp review, complete holiday guide, FAQs, frugal mum

 

How much does Disneyland Paris cost – is it worth the money?

I think if you have a little one who is Disney mad and will enjoy all of that side of things then it may well be worth the money – you’ll get serious ‘best parent ever’ points anyway! But for us, with kids who like rides but are past the Disney phase, I think it was a bit of an anti-climax after all of the hype that surrounds Disneyland. (Their favourite theme park is still Paultons! 😂)

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, pirates of the caribbean ship, frugal mum and children smiling

I think my children had built it up in their minds and I’m not sure it quite lived up to their expectations. Don’t get me wrong, we really enjoyed our day (and it was always going to be a one time thing for us anyway) but it wasn’t quite as we’d imagined it to be. Though I think the heat did make things feel more hard work than perhaps would have on a cooler day.

 

A day at Disneyland Paris: What we spent

We visited Disneyland Paris off peak, on a September weekday, and the tickets were around £50 per person. I don’t think that this was bad value, given that other theme parks are not dissimilar in price and it’s larger than others and a full day out. There’s also a lot of attention to detail that isn’t always there at these kinds of places, and it was clean and well maintained too. So I don’t think the entrance cost was unreasonable – though the extra €30 for parking was expensive on top!

Though we didn’t stay in an official Disney hotel, the Novotel hotel we used cost us around £350 for two nights including breakfast so, though it was by no means cheap, it was less expensive than staying in a Disney hotel. You’ve also got to consider travel costs on top too – this could be flights if you live further afield, or fuel and Channel Crossing / ferry costs. If you’re driving then this is another reason to book your accommodation through Eurocamp, as they offer discounted ferry and Channel Crossing prices.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, main street, busy, people, castle behind

Because we booked the rest of our trip through Eurocamp (we went on to the Netherlands for 10 days after Disneyland staying at Lake Resort Beekse Bergen and Duinrell) we made the most of their Channel Crossing discount despite using a hotel for the first part of the trip – you can book any travel dates you wish.

I’m not including travel expenses for us, as we continued on with our holiday, but it would have been around £200 for the Channel Tunnel plus tolls and fuel – to give you an idea for your own booking. But even doing Disneyland Paris on a budget, and being sensible with money, it still cost us:

  • Tickets for one day: €200
  • Accommodation for two nights: €350
  • Costs whilst there (food etc): €100
  • Parking: €30
  • Total: €680

We were under no illusion that it wasn’t going to cost a small fortune, and we did have a great day, but personally we wouldn’t visit Disneyland Paris again. We were happy to do it as a one off, and sort of felt that every kid should have their Disneyland Day, but it was a lot of money to spend for one day of entertainment.

I feel like I should add that the accommodation costs for the rest of our holiday (10 days in the Netherlands) cost less than what we spent to visit Disneyland for a day! 😂 So, when you look at value for money, it’s good to keep that sort of thing in mind to weigh it up, especially with the higher costs for larger families or during peak times.

 

How can I save money on my Disneyland Paris experience?

If you’d like to visit without going overboard with the costs, here are my top tips for saving money on your Disneyland Paris holiday. Here’s how to do Disneyland Paris on a budget:

1. If you can, book your visit out of season and preferably avoid weekends – not only are off-peak dates cheaper but it’ll be less busy too so you can really get the most out of your day.

2. As I mentioned above, we continued our holiday in Europe so that we hadn’t just paid for the crossing etc for a one day visit, and we used Eurocamp’s travel discount too. So, plan a full holiday to make the most of your travelling costs.

3. For cheaper accommodation options, book your stay at Eurocamp’s La Croix du Vieux Pont or Paris-Est campsitesor use a nearby hotel, to avoid the high costs of the Disneyland Resort. If you’d prefer to stay on resort, have a look at package deals – as booking your tickets with the accommodation will likely save you some money. Lastminute.com offer deals for flights, hotels and tickets all in one package, you can find out more about those here: Disneyland Paris Deals.

4. Bring snacks and insulated water bottles to refill with cold water around the park, this will help you to avoid small unnecessary costs throughout the day.

5. Disneyland Paris offers annual passes for frequent visitors – so if you’re a big Disney fan, these can provide great value if you plan to visit multiple times in a year.

disneyland paris guide, review, frugal mum family photo, castle light show with mickey mouse ears in sky

 

Other tips for a fun day at Disneyland Paris:

  • Use the app to check for wait times and ride closures, to get the most from your day and also to avoid tiring out little legs unnecessarily.
  • Disneyland Paris hosts special seasonal events like Halloween and Christmas celebrations, often with unique decorations and entertainment. Whilst these sound like great fun (and I’m sure that they are!) those sorts of peak times will likely make things incredibly busy. So, try to avoid popular dates and events to avoid longer queues – especially if you only have one day in the park.
  • Save some spending money in advance, and set a budget, so that the cost of everything doesn’t spoil your day. (No-one wants to pay for a holiday for years afterwards!) If you expect it to be expensive, but come well prepared, you can still have a magical day without worrying about money. Chat with the kids too to establish what they’ll be allowed to eat / buy from the gift shop etc to set expectations and avoid tantrums.

 

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