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The complete guide to the happiest place on earth, or in other words – Disneyland Paris! Part 1

Let’s start with a disclosure: The first time I went up on a roller coaster was at the age of 15, while traveling abroad with a group, because I wanted to make an impression on a certain boy. That’s how I found myself, together with another friend, in the front cart of a roller coaster that had stopped an inch from the fall, muttering “Why?” in a weak voice of someone who just understood that they’ve just made a fatal mistake.            A few seconds passed by and on the way down I screamed a scream that left me breathless and got gradually replaced with booming laughter.

The boy is long forgotten, but the love I discovered back then for roller coasters and the adrenaline rush that comes along with riding them accompanies me too this day. So, when I flew for the first time (and the second, and the third …) to Paris it was obvious that Disneyland Paris was at the top of my bucket list.

I came, I saw, I fell in love! And now it’s your turn! 😊

For you to make the most out of your visit to this magical place, here is an accessible guide with answers to why, when, how much and other burning questions (maybe except the question of whether Prince Charming is available for a date). <img src="clock.png" alt="Mickey mouse clock on building">“So why do we need to get dragged as far as Disneyland Paris when we have an Amusement Park around the corner?”

Well, simply because that beyond the fact that this is a high-quality amusement park with creative and unique rides, it’s also really is one of the happiest places on earth whether you’re five or eighty-five.There are rides that are suitable for any age and even if it’s not exactly your cup of tea, the scenery and the side attractions will make sure to get you into the atmosphere.Whether you grew up watching Disney movies or not, the park invites its visitors to go deeper into the experience and live the dream even if only for a day.

From the moment you enter the park gates you can feel something changing in the atmosphere: the excitement and the expectation of experiencing and seeing something new create a vibrant environment that surrounds those who enter and it is hard not to get caught in the moment and feel that you are in the middle of a celebration. I don’t know about you, but to escape to a parallel universe of fairytale like decor, adrenalin jumps and the sweet smell of caramel and popcorn sounds to me like a wonderful way to spend a day while in Paris.    To me, more than anything else, that’s what makes a visit to the park so special: the ability to draw in the visitor into a world that is all fun and joy, just like the ending of a typical Disney movie.
<img src="castle.png" alt="girl in front of disneyland paris castle"> <img src="castle.png" alt="girl in front of disneyland paris castle"><img src="castle.png" alt="girl in front of disneyland paris castle"> <img src="castle.png" alt="girl in front of disneyland paris castle">
“Ok, you’ve convinced us, when are we going?”

It’s important to know that the season and day you decide to go on will have a direct impact on your visit in several parameters: weather, crowds, opening hours, the seasonal decorations and the price of the ticket (we will discuss this topic later).

I’ll start from the season that in my opinion is the least worth visiting: the summer. Although I’m a summer kind girl, I still don’t think it’s anyone’s priority to spend a sweaty eternity queueing to the rides, during the hottest and most crowded season of the year. All the children of Europe (and not only them) are on summer vacation at this point, which means that the park is full of families far more than usual. The only advantage this season offers is the longer opening hours, and even then I’m not sure that it’s worth the long queues. Travel during the season only if there is no other alternative and it’s an experience that’s important to you.

On the other hand, there’s the winter. The coldest season of the year might pose a threat to those who fear the cold, but do not fright! Many of the rides are located in indoor hangars so that the park continues to work even in rainy weather. As a result, winter becomes a completely legitimate season for visiting. Among the advantages of a winter visit to the park is the fact that the usual crowds are reduced (because everyone prefers to sit under a blanket with a cup of hot coco… But not you! You are heroes and you are going to conquer this park Napoleon Style!).

Another added bonus for the season is that during the month of December the park is decorated with countless sparkling lights for Christmas, which provide an extra magical experience, along with parades and special holiday activities. As someone who visited during the season and witnessed the wonder with her own eyes, I find it a sufficient reason in itself to visit the park. There is no doubt that Tinkerbell works overtime during the season. That said, you should take into consideration that it is cold, the opening hours are shorter compared to summer, and the holiday itself may be more crowded than usual (although personally I didn’t notice it).<img src="christmas tree.png" alt="christmas decorated disneyland paris">The transition seasons, spring and autumn, are the most convenient for a visit in terms of weather since it’s not too cold or too hot. To avoid the crowds, you should simply check ahead and see that you’re not arriving on a national holiday.

During the autumn, throughout October, the park wraps itself in a veil of orange decorations and pumpkins are beginning to pop out of every corner in honor of the Halloween festivities that are taking place at the end of the month. Similarly to Christmas, this time also, there are parades and special events that take place during the season. For example, if you’ve always dreamt of visiting the park dressed up as your favorite character but by chance you’ve also passed the age of 12, you’ll be happy to hear that at the end of the month comes up the only event of the year you’ll be allowed to do so: Halloween night’s party! (During the rest of the year the park doesn’t allow entry to dressed up adults for security reasons).

It is worth knowing that during the year there is a variety of events and “mini” celebrations taking place at the park, so you should check the website for more information to make sure you don’t arrive on a particularly busy day, or on the contrary, so you don’t miss an event that you take interest in.<img src="vane.png" alt="golden tinkerbell vane"> <img src="Peter Pan.png" alt="Peter pan decor in disneyland Paris"> <img src="decor.png" alt="futuristic decor in disneyland paris">
“Ok, we’ve chosen a season to visit, how much is the whole story gonna cost us?”

Let’s start with a small tip – buy the tickets in advance on the website and never on site ! It reduces costs and saves valuable time of waiting in line for the tickets.

As I mentioned, the price of the ticket will be affected by the day you choose to visit, but not only:

First, it is worth knowing that Disneyland Paris is actually made up of two different compounds with two separate entrance gates: the first one being the “Disneyland Park”, which is associated with the famous castle and the classic fairytale-like setting and the second one being “Walt Disney Studios”, a park on its own, with a decor that may be considered less classic but includes some very cool rides.

As part of the ticket buying process, you’ll have to decide and choose between visiting one of the parks or both of them, an option that’ll allow you (if you choose it) to skip between the two parks throughout the day (the Studios park is closing earlier so I recommend to start there). The skipping is made possible by presenting your ticket at the entry to each park, therefore it’s important to keep it on you throughout the day.                                The way I see it, the combined option is recommended if you arrive during the low season and are prepared to conquer the park in a “Fast & Furious” kind of way. Maybe you’ll not be able to get on all of the rides, but you’ll get on many of them. If you are visiting with small children that’ll have trouble walking for long periods of time and might get tired, this option is less suitable for you in my opinion, mostly in light of the fact that most of the classic décor and the children rides are concentrated in the park with the castle.<img src="lantern.png" alt="tinkerbell lantern decor in Disneyland Paris"> <img src="Disney store.png" alt="girl blowing a kiss in front of a Disney store"><img src="Disneyland ride.png" alt="Disneyland Paris mad hatter's tea cups ride"><img src="Disney store.png" alt="girl in front of a Disney store"> <img src="zeppelin.png" alt="zeppelin decor in Disneyland Paris">Second, you’ll have to ask yourselves how many days would you like to spend in the park. In addition to the daily tickets, the park offers package deals of two to four days of visit, which include both compounds, so if you’re Disney die-hard fans or just want to take your visit at a slower pace, the option exists.

Finally, you’ll have to decide on the day of the visit. In general, the holiday season and the weekends are cataloged on the website as peak season which results in ticket prices going up. The rest of the year the prices are more pocket friendly and a good rule of a thumb would be to arrive in the middle of the week when the crowds decrease (Tuesday and Wednesday per se are perfect days). Regarding the package deals, it should be noted that the price per day goes down the more days you book.

A new feature can now be added to the ticket price: the “Super Fastpass” or alternatively the “Ultimate FastPass”. The regular Fastpass is included in the entry price and allows you to scan your ticket in special scanners (located near selected rides in the park) to receive a ticket with a time slot of half an hour during which you can return to the ride and join the fast queue by showing your Fastpass ticket to a cast member.              On the same ticket you can also find the next time you’ll be able to receive a new Fastpass (due to a loophole in the system you can try either two hours after receiving the first one or at the beginning of it’s returning time slot).

The newest feature allows the visitors, for an additional fee, to enter the fast queue without having to wait for a time slot. The feature includes a variety of options: skip the wait once for various combinations of rides (“Super Fastpass”),  skip the wait once for all of the rides (“Super Fastpass”) or even unlimited skip the wait for all of the rides (“Ultimate Fastpass”). The price ranges between 30-150 € and the daily amount of tickets available is limited. Consider if this is something you’re interested in, personally each time I visited I managed without it.<img src="Disneyland ride.png" alt="Big thunder mountain ride in Disneyland Paris">“We bought tickets, how do we get to the park now, does that mean we have to book a hotel/apartment nearby?”

Actually, no. It is true that booking a room at one of the park hotels can be an indulging and comfortable experience, especially if you chose a package deal of several days at the park, but it’s really not a necessity.            If your budget is limited or you just simply rather spend your money elsewhere, you’ll be happy to find that traveling from Paris is possible, convenient, easy and cheap.

The park is situated 40 minutes away from Paris, in the city of Marne-la-Vallée. The train stops practically in front of the entrance gate making the whole story ridiculously effortless. Take the RER A train at one of the following stations: Charles de Gaulle Etoile, Auber, Chatelet Les Halles, Gare de Lyon, Nation and descend at the Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy station. There’s a train to the park every 15 minutes, while the trains begin to work from around 5:30 AM  and continue to work until around midnight, allowing the visitors to stay for the “Disney Illuminations” show without the concern of missing the last train to Paris. The cost of a one-way ticket is around eight euro.
<img src="fireworks.png" alt="fireworks behind Disneyland Paris castle"> <img src="fireworks.png" alt="fireworks behind Disneyland Paris castle"><img src="fireworks.png" alt="fireworks behind Disneyland Paris castle">I hope that this post has made you excited about the idea of visiting Mickey and his friends at his home.                In the second part of the guide, I plan to share with you some hot tips that’ll prepare you for your visit at the park and help you while you’re there. If you have any questions and/or comments, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer.

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