If you know us, you know that we can’t pass up a visit to Disneyland, no matter where we are in the world! Our latest adventure took us through France where we spent two days at the Disneyland Paris Resort.
The resort is split into two parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. Here are a few tips we wish we would have known before visiting:
Get Breakfast Before Going Into the Park
We were surprised to find that there weren’t nearly as many quick service restaurants or snack carts as we expected. This was especially apparent in the mornings as we were looking for something to eat. The limited number of counter service restaurants that do exist, don’t open until lunch time.
In Disneyland, we found that some of the smaller shops (i.e. the outdoor kind that sell plush characters & t-shirts), had coffee machines by the cashier. This enabled us to at least buy a café au lait for the morning.
The Walt Disney Studios park has even fewer options for dining, so if you need a boost of caffeine in the morning, the best place to stop is Restaurant en Coulisse, which is a counter service restaurant in the Front Lot as you first enter the park.
Purchase Park Hopper Tickets
At 126 acres, Disneyland Paris is one of the largest Magic Kingdom style parks. In contrast, Walt Disney Studios measures in at only 62 acres, making it the smallest of all the Disney parks worldwide. With this disproportion, it only makes sense to buy a park hopper ticket. Chances are, you will want to go back and forth for dining, attractions and Disneyland’s night-time shows.
Make Reservations for Dining in Advance
As mentioned above, many places don’t open until lunch. This results in long lines at quick service restaurants and limited walk-in space everywhere else. Reservations for dining cannot be made online or through the app, so you will need to call internationally and make reservations over the phone before you leave.
While visiting the resort, we had the opportunity to dine at Captain Jack’s. This pirate restaurant was the Parisian equivalent of Blue Bayou. Unlike it’s U.S. counterpart which has a prominent Cajun theme, Captain Jack’s is modeled after a tropical lagoon, reminiscent of the Tiki Room’s original concept. When we dined, the restaurant was offering a dinner buffet which included everything from boudin to Mahi-mahi.
We also had dinner at Walt’s, which is located on Main Street. This American themed restaurant was inspired by Walt’s Victorian hometown, but has rooms themed to match the major lands in the park. Our table was in “Adventureland”, and it was surrounded by hanging cloths and lanterns which made us feel like we were sitting in an exotic bazaar. The food was particularly tasty, with wine pairings to match.
Enjoy the Walk Through Attractions
In addition to the classic roller coaster rides, the resort has multiple walk through attractions including Les Mystères du Nautilus, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, La Tanière du Dragon, and Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin. For those unfamiliar with French, these attractions include a walk through of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus ship, a hedge maze from Alice in Wonderland, a dragon’s den located under the castle and a storybook walk through of Aladdin’s adventures.
We enjoyed exploring these immersive worlds at a leisurely pace, and the view of Fantasyland from the top of the labyrinth was magical!
Spend Some Time Admiring the Castle
Speaking of Fantastyland, how could we write about Disneyland Paris without mentioning the castle? The architectural detail is unrivaled by the other Magic Kingdom park. If the fortified wall surrounding the base of the castle seems familiar, you may be thinking of the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest. Additionally, the patterned detail of the castle’s roof suggests inspiration from Vienna’s famous cathedrals. A mix of Gothic spires and baroque windows create a pastiche of architectural elements that will remind you of every beautiful castle in Europe while somehow evoking something new, that you have never experienced before.
Overall, the castle was the most unique part of the Disneyland Paris Resort. We don’t know if we would have appreciated the intricacies of the design had we not spent a couple of weeks exploring real castles around Europe. So as our final tip, we recommend you visit Disneyland Paris at the end of your trip to France as it was the perfect goodbye to a beautiful vacation. See ya real soon Monsieur Mickey!