I’m a Disney Mom. It happened almost two years ago. I found myself introducing my oldest son to Mickey Mouse and Pixar movies and being giddy when I could tell he enjoyed them. We did our first trip to Disneyland in California last year and it was a blast! So, when we decided to take our small children to Europe this Spring, we knew we had to check out Disneyland Paris.
Disneyland Paris is comprised of two parks: Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park. Disneyland Paris is very similar to Disneyland in California except they don’t have Toon Town. But, they do have other attractions such as Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, an Aladdin ride and the Casey Jr. Train is like a baby roller coaster. We tried to see the dragon that lives under the castle, but it was closed off due to 25th Anniversary festivities. Walt Disney Studios Park closes earlier than Disneyland Paris (it closed at 7pm the day we went.) This is the home of Ratatouille and Chez Remy and lots of shows.
We ended up doing Disneyland Paris after arriving in Paris the night before. This was a bit stressful because everyone was exhausted and it was hard to pack up and get everyone ready for a day at Disneyland Paris. We ended up leaving later than we expected. I also left my phone behind, which meant I had to rely on my husband for all the photos. And sometime during the day, we lost our park hopper tickets so we were unable to check out Walt Disney Studios Park. It ended up being okay because we really wouldn’t have had enough time to explore it before it closed.
We arrived just a couple of weeks after the start of the 25th Anniversary celebration of Disneyland Paris. It looked very similar to the 60th Anniversary celebration of Disneyland we experienced last year in California. But, they have some new shows and meet and greets with characters in 25th Anniversary clothing. It’s a fun excuse to check out Disneyland Paris this year!
I created a meticulous itinerary after doing hours and hours of research about Disneyland Paris via their website and other blogs. My plan was to arrive at 9:30am (a full 30 minutes before Disneyland Paris opened) so I’d have plenty of time to pick up my tickets and we could grab food/coffee at Disney Village. First, we would head straight to Fantasyland to do Casey Jr., Le Pays de Contes de Fées and Meet Mickey. Then, we’d go to Adventureland and do Pirates of the Caribbean, Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin, Adventure Island and do a few character meet and greets. I figured we’d do all that before lunch and then go back to Fantasyland to see the new show Mickey Presents: Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris and do It’s a Small World.
Then, we’d head to Walt Disney Studios Park to check out Stitch Live! at Production Courtyard, Cars Quatre Roues Rallye and Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin at Toon Studio. We’d also check out the Ratatouille ride and peak inside Chez Remy before heading back to Disneyland Paris to watch the Parade and do the Thunder Mesa Riverboats. Finally, we’d end with the Disney Illuminations show before taking the train back to Paris. This was too aggressive. Here’s what we actually did:
Disneyland Paris 1 Day Itinerary with a Baby and Preschooler
12:30pm: Arrived at Disneyland Paris via RER A Train (took about 35 minutes from Paris)
Headed straight for Fantasyland and waited 45 minutes in line to ride Dumbo for the first time because our 3-year-old really, really wanted to do that. I nursed our baby on the bench while my husband and oldest son waited in line and then we joined them.
1:15pm: Rode Dumbo (which everyone loved!)
Waited 15 minutes in line for Le Pays des Contes de Fées (storybook village boat ride)
1:40pm: Rode Le Pays des Contes de Fées
Waited 5 minutes for Casey Jr.-le Petit Train du Cirque
1:50pm: Rode Casey Jr.
We all were a bit grouchy and hungry so we hit up Toad Hall for lunch and I took my 3-year-old to the bathroom.
2:00pm: Fish and Chips at Toad Hall
2:45pm: Headed to Meet Mickey Mouse
Spent 40 minutes in line inside to meet Mickey and watched the cartoons (my 3-year-old clapped after each clip.)
3:25pm: Met Mickey Mouse and it was a magical experience! They took a lot of time with us and Mickey even pretended to be a train to entertain our 3-year-old while we got our baby ready for photos.
Put back on all our layers of clothing and funneled to the cashier area to look at our Mickey photos.
3:45pm: Got to Mickey photo counter and chose 2 photos to purchase.
Bought popcorn at a stand (they had both sweet and salty options)
4:00pm: Went down Main Street at went shopping for warmer clothes because we were freezing.
4:50pm: Found the Baby Lounge and nursed our baby while our 3-year-old napped in the stroller. My husband found a spot with tables and chairs and we drank Coke and chatted with other guests as we waited for the parade to start.
5:30pm: Disney Stars on Parade (which was FABULOUS!)
6:15pm: Realized we lost our Park Hopper tickets and that Walt Disney Studios Park closed at 7pm. Made executive decision to stay put.
Headed to Star Wars area to go shopping.
6:30pm: Tried to go on Disneyland Railroad but found out it was a 50 minute wait so we turned back.
6:40pm: Headed to It’s a Small World and waited 15 minutes.
6:55pm: Rode It’s a Small World and it was so beautiful my oldest and I got right back in line to ride it again.
7:20pm: Headed to the Carousel and I rode with our 3-year-old while my husband waited with our baby.
7:30pm: Waited 15 minutes for Disneyland Railroad to take us back to entrance.
8:00pm: Arrived in entrance and looked for food in Disney Village. We settled on hot dogs.
8:30pm: Caught the RER A train back to Paris.
15 Tips for Disneyland Paris with a Baby and Preschooler
- Take the train. I had read that the train was a 5 minute walk across the street to the gate and I was worried about getting there with the kids. In reality, the train stop is AT Disneyland and there’s no crossing of streets. It took us about 35 minutes from Paris and we were able to find seats and bring a full backpack and umbrella stroller with no problem.
- Dress in layers. We went in April and we were FREEZING. I ended up wearing 6 layers at one point to keep from shivering. They only sold one jacket for women at the Park, so I wish I would have brought a much heavier coat with me. We also bought blankets there to keep the kids warmer.
- Bring a stroller. I feel like this is my advice for any of the Disney Parks, but it was extra helpful going to and from the train. Our 3-year-old used it the most and it was primarily to move a bit quicker so we could do more rides.
- Head to City Hall first. If you aren’t staying on-property, head to City Hall and pick up a button that says “I’m Celebrating” in French! We love to add the buttons to our bags or clothing for some Disney flair and it’s fun souvenir.
- Lines are not followed. This was especially difficult with kids because we had people mow over us to get on rides. This meant our family couldn’t sit together for some rides, even when we were at the front of the line. This frustrated my 3-year-old a lot because we either had to pick him up and race to get on a ride or we got the last seats available.
- Cast members are on French time. We found that it took a very long time to do anything whenever a cast member was involved. We spent about 20 minutes waiting in a non-line to order our Mickey photo and then once we did order it, we spent more time waiting for the cast member to get the order right. It’s not the level of speedy service that you’ll find in California, so it’s good to prepare yourself.
- Bring snacks. The food at Disneyland Paris is pretty blah and very expensive. Neither the snacks nor food items seemed special to Disneyland Paris except for a crepe stand. We ate lunch at Toad Hall and their fish and chips were okay, but there was too much batter. We relied a lot on the snacks we brought.
- Visit Mickey. There is something so magical about visiting Mickey Mouse. I feel like they choose the nicest cast members for Mickey’s handlers and the photographers are also so happy and friendly. This was the first time my youngest got to meet Mickey and it was such a special, memorable moment. I’d recommend every guest visit Mickey at least once during their trip.
- Spend 2 days at the Parks. For the most enjoyable experience, I’d spend at least 2 days so I wouldn’t feel rushed. While it feels smaller than Disneyland in California, it’s still big enough to warrant the time. We didn’t have time to see any of the shows or check out Walt Disney Studios Park. I wish we would have stayed a couple of days and made it a relaxing break during our European adventure.
- Watch Disney movies ahead of time. Disneyland Paris has different character meet-and-greets than in California. We saw Gepetto, the Queen of Hearts, and the White Rabbit, in addition to 25th Anniversary Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto. Our 3-year-old hasn’t seen Pinocchio or Alice in Wonderland so he wasn’t super interested in them.
- Shop the Paris Collection. I was surprised that there weren’t more places to buy Disney stuff, but I was happy to shop the Paris Collection. Besides cute clothing items, there were also Disneyland Paris postcards, and a train set my son desperately wanted.
- Bring Pull-Ups. If you are bringing a preschooler, you might want to bring pull-ups. We had our son wear pull-ups the whole day and it saved us a lot of stress when locating a bathroom. It also helped us not have to bring several extra changes of clothes for him.
- Take advantage of the Baby Care Center. I used the one near Main Street and while it was very bare bones (2 wooden chairs for nursing and a bunch of wooden high chairs) it was a warm and quiet area away from the crowd. They also had a long changing table area with large paper towels to put on top. In hindsight, I wish I would have taken my 3-year-old here to use the restroom every time we passed it since it wasn’t crowded at all.
- Download the Disneyland Paris App. We found this app to be very helpful when checking ride times and locating restrooms. It also helped us navigate the park quickly.
- Check their website. We found a lot of helpful information about going to Disneyland Paris with Children on their website. We also found PDFs of the program, which helped us plan our trip.
Overall, our impression was that it seemed like Disneyland-light. We didn’t see balloon sellers on Main Street, guests weren’t decked out in Disney clothing, and the Park looked like it could use a good scrubbing. But, it still felt like Disneyland; we had a fantastic time! If we had the opportunity to do it over again, we would have gone straight to Disneyland Paris and stayed at least two nights at one of the hotels on-site so we could have spent one full day at each park. We also heard good things about the character meals and dining at Chez Remy. We moved a lot slower with a baby and a preschooler than I had anticipated. We will be incorporating a mini vacation to Disneyland Paris the next time we bring our kids to France.
Disneyland Paris was kind enough to offer me (2) complimentary one day park hopper tickets and a VIP Fastpass for 4 so we could explore the parks.