Disneyland Paris – The Magic is Much Cheaper than you Think
I have just come back from France and during that time we spent a full day at Disneyland Paris. When I say full I mean full. We arrived a little bit later than I would have liked (ie not as soon as the park opened) and left at midnight. Due to our son’s special needs we did not have to queue either, so fitted rather a lot in. Considering that there were 5 of us (2 adults, 11, 7 and 6 year olds), it was school holidays and the weather was gorgeous I think we did really well on what I would consider a relatively small budget for going abroad and experiencing the magic of Disney.
How to do Disneyland Paris on a Budget
Getting to France
I am talking in terms of driving to France as this is by far the cheapest option, especially for families of 5 or 6 people like ourselves. When considering whether you want to take the Ferry or use the Euro Tunnel then consider using Tesco vouchers and think about your needs. The Ferry is a longer route giving the driver more of a rest but is more direct onto the Toll road (peage) needed for Disneyland. Note if you do want to avoid the tolls and end up at one there is an exit off the road. In our experience people were quite used to reversing back out of the booths for one reason or another. If you do go through though don’t lose your ticket and it is helpful if you are paying with cash to have the right change (and some extra in case the coin doesn’t go through okay).
We prefer the Euro Tunnel with its quicker route but mainly because we do not have to worry about getting the children in and out of the car. Save money by ordering everything you need (such as headlight adapters) before you set off. Take plenty of snacks and drinks with you for the journey, and in-car entertainment. Diesel is cheaper in France so consider filling up once over there. Try to fill up at the hypermarkets (hypermarche) but be warned that some places only accept cards.
Previously we had stayed at Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch as it best suited our needs (at the time our oldest son was consider an adult and the youngest 3 went free, plus it meant all 6 of us could sleep in the same accommodation). They have stopped providing breakfast there and it is no longer a cheap option for us so this time we stayed at EuroCamp through the Sun Holidays. It was a Monday to Friday break which cost us around £130. I believe that you can also get a holiday for 4 in France from them for £60 with The Sun in the school summer holidays too (but don’t quote me on that). We weren’t originally intending on visiting Disney again as so the location was over a 2 hour drive (and that included a toll road). If I were planning my holiday specifically for Disney I would look at campsites closer by. Of course there is the option of taking a tent but I am not sure if this would be any cheaper. Think about how much it will cost you to get to Disneyland from your accommodation as well as how far it is from home – including the cost of any Toll roads as well as fuel. If you are using the Toll roads try to ensure you pay with cash to avoid any extra cash handling fees. Plus any other attractions in France you may want to visit. You may also want to think about rest days when visiting Disney.
Disneyland Paris Entry Tickets
We bought our Disneyland Paris tickets from AttractionTix (who have an offer on 37% off the gate price so prices are from £34.50). It was interesting to speak to other people in the park who had done the same too as we hadn’t heard of them until recently. It was simple in that I paid over the phone and was e-mailed a ticket to print out. We then went to Guest Services at the side of the main hotel who exchanged the ticket for entry tickets. Note that I did need to show them my passport. I am not sure if there was any kind of option for paying for parking in advanced but this cost us 15 Euros for the day.
When you want to visit Disneyland Paris
You need to think about when you want to go. Consider the opening hours, what is on offer (eg is it Halloween, Christmas, is it open until late). There are essential 3 tiers – super busy (Super Magic Ticket), busy (Magic Ticket) and quiet (mini ticket). AttractionTix have a calendar graphic to help you understand better how much it will cost. All 3 times we have been we go in the May/June half term as the French children are at school but we do not need to pull our children out of school during term time. This means the weather is nice and it is not too crowded. When you want to go will also influence how much you pay.
One Park or Two
We visited both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. Personally I prefer Walt Disney Studios – there’s the new Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy 3D ride and my very favourite Rock and Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, The Tower of Terror and not to mention the chance to meet Spiderman! There’s plenty of shows for the younger children as well as the thrills of the older. I feel it is quieter than the main Disneyland Park but it may shut earlier. Of course Disneyland Park has the castle and lots more to do as well as staying open later. I recommend Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Moutain: Mission 2 (although unfortunately this was not open when we went this time).
Stay the Day
Try to plan what you want to see so that you do not end up going backwards and forwards around the park. If you have children of different heights try to arrange this so any one of them is not going to be standing around for any length of time (although there is always plenty to see). We stayed until midnight and it was well worth it. The park itself looked amazing all lit up and that was before a very stunning light show. If you are staying a long time and so end up eating at the park I would recommend you planning where you want to eat AND an alternative before you go (there is a budget rating on the map for each restaurant). We wished to eat at Pizza Planet but was closed when we arrived – I think if we had been any more hungry/tired we would have just fell into the nearest place. Having an idea of where else suited our budget and tastes helps. Of course you can completely leave the park and eat elsewhere. AttractionTix also have an offer on a 2 course meal at Planet Hollywood located in the Disney Village.
Take a bag
We took quite a big bag in with us to save us wasting time walking backwards and forwards to the car. In it we took empty water bottles to refill from the various fountains around the park. Try to find out where these are – I know there are ones by Big Thunder Mountain in the main Disneyland Paris Park and by the toilets by The Tower of Terror in Walt Disney Studios. If you have children who are like mine and do not like plain water then invest in something like Vimto Squeezy before you go. Take a packed lunch with you – but remember you are going to have to carry it. Most rides you can take the bag with you.
Other things to Consider
Disney merchandise is very expensive at Disneyland Paris so buy before you leave home – any outfits for the kids, autograph books and pens etc. Take a camera but there’s also package options for buying more than one professionally taken or ride photo whilst you are there.
If you have any other money saving tips for visiting Disneyland Paris I would love to hear them please.
I bought discounted tickets to Disneyland Paris from AttractionTix all words and opinions are my own.