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The complete guide to the happiest place on earth – Disneyland Paris! Part 1

Let’s start with a disclosure: The first time in my life when I rode a roller coaster was at the age of 15 while traveling abroad with a group because I wanted to impress a certain boy. That’s how I found myself, together with another friend, in the front cart of a roller coaster that has 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 gradually replaced itself with booming laughter.

The boy has been long forgotten, but the love I discovered back then for roller coasters and the adrenaline rush that comes along with riding them accompanies me to this day.
So, when I  finally got to fly to Paris for the first time (and the second, and the third …) it was obvious that Disneyland Paris and its rides were 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, I give you this humbly written guide, with answers to questions like why, when, how much, etc.  (maybe except the question of whether Prince Charming is available for a date).

<img src="clock.png" alt="mickey mouse clock">

“So why do we need to visit Disneyland Paris when we have an Amusement Park around the corner?”

Well, simply because beyond it being a high-quality amusement park with creative and unique rides, it 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’s gates you can feel something changing in the atmosphere: the excitement and expectation of experiencing and seeing something new create a vibrant environment that surrounds those who enter, and it truly is hard not to get caught in the moment and feel that you’re in the middle of a big celebration.
I don’t know what 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. For me, more than anything else, this is what makes a visit to the park so special: its ability to draw in the visitor into a world that’s all fun and joy, just like the ending of a typical Disney movie.

“Ok, you’ve convinced us, when are we going?”

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

Summer-

I’ll start from the season, during which, in my opinion, it’s least recommended to visit:
the summer. Although I’m a summer kind of girl, I still don’t think it’s anyone’s priority to spend a sweaty eternity queueing to rides, during the hottest and most crowded season of the year. All Europe’s children (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 has is that it offers longer opening hours, and even then,
I’m not sure that it’s worth the long queues. Visit only if there are no other options and it’s important for you.

Winter-

On the other hand, there’s 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 inside indoor hangars, so the park continues to operate even throughout rainy weather. As a result, winter becomes a completely legit season to visit. Among the advantages of such a visit, is the fact that the usual crowds are reduced (because everyone prefers to sit at home, under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa… But not you! You’re 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 of Christmas decorations, which provide an extra magical experience along with the parades and special holiday activities.
As someone who had the pleasure to visit during this magical time and witnessed the wonder with her own eyes, I find it a sufficient reason in itself to visit the park. There’s no doubt that Tinkerbell works overtime throughout the season.
That being said, you should take into consideration that it’s cold (obviously), the opening hours are shorter compared to the summer season, and the holiday itself may be more crowded than usual (although personally, I didn’t notice it).

<img src="christamsdecorations.png" alt="christmas decoration at disneyland paris">

Spring and autumn-

The transition seasons, spring and autumn, are the most convenient for visiting in terms of weather since it’s not too cold or too hot. To avoid the crowds, you should check ahead and see that you aren’t planning to arrive 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, 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 happen to be over 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 during which 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 throughout the year there are a variety of events and “mini” celebrations taking place at the park, so you should check out the website for more information to make sure you don’t arrive on a particularly busy day, or on the contrary, so that you don’t end up missing out on an event that you’re interested in.

<img src="weather vane.png" alt="tinckerbell weather vane at disneyland paris">

“Ok, we’ve chosen a season to visit, how much is the whole story gonna cost us?”

As I mentioned, the pricing of the ticket will be affected by the day which you’ll choose to visit on, but it’s not the only criteria that’ll determine its price:

Two parks to rule them all-

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 the “Walt Disney Studios” with decor that may be considered less classic but with some very cool rides housed under its roof.

<img src="ride.png" alt="mad hatter cups ride at disneyland paris">

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 to skip between the two throughout the day (the Studios park is closing earlier so I recommend starting there).
The skipping is made possible by presenting your ticket at the entrance to each park, therefore it’s important to keep it on you throughout the day.
The way I see it, you should pick this option if you plan on arriving during the low season and prepared to conquer the park in a “Fast & Furious” kind of way. You may not be able to try out all of the rides, but you’ll be able to try many of them.
If you’re visiting with small children that tend to get tired quickly, this option is less suitable for you, especially in light of the fact that most of the classic décor and the children’s rides are concentrated in the park with the castle anyway.

How long do you want to party?

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, 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. It should be noted that the price per day goes down the more days you book.

Save the date-

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, resulting in pricier tickets.
The rest of the year the prices are more pocket-friendly and a good rule of thumb would be to arrive in the middle of the week when the crowds decrease (Tuesday and Wednesday per se are perfect days). 

The “Fastpass”-

A new feature can now be added to the ticket’s 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 scanner machines that are located near selected rides 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 it to a cast member.
On the same ticket, you can also find the next time you’ll be able to receive a new one (due to a loophole in the system you can try either two hours after receiving the first one or at the beginning of its returning time slot).

The new “FastPass” options allow the visitors, for an additional fee, to enter the fast queue without having to wait for the time slot. There is also 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 just go for an 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, but in my experience, it’s definitely not a must.

A small tip-

Buy the tickets in advance on the website and never on site! It reduces prices and saves valuable time of waiting in line for the tickets.

<img src="rollercoaster.png" alt="big thunder rollercoaster at disneyland paris">

“We bought tickets, how do we get to the park now, does this mean we have to book a hotel/apartment nearby?”

Actually, no. Booking a room at one of the park hotels can indeed 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.

Getting there-

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 approximately every 15 minutes with the trains are beginning to operate from around 5:30 AM and continuing to do so up until around midnight, allowing the visitors to stay for the “Disney Illuminations” show without being concerned with missing the last train to Paris. The cost of a one-way ticket is around eight euros.

<img src="castle.png" alt="disney illuminations show at the castle in disneyland paris">

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 this guide, I plan to share with you some hot tips that’ll prepare you for your visit to the park and help you while you’re there.
If you have any questions please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer.

The complete guide to the happiest place on earth - Disneyland Paris! Part 1

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