This November we took a 3 day trip to Disneyland Paris. It’s a great place for anyone of any age, and from the UK/Europe it’s so quick to get to. You’d want 3-4 days there – perfectly do-able on a bank holiday weekend.
TIP: If you’re planning a trip to DLP and have never been to Paris, make the time to visit the city! It’s my favorite city to visit and I’ve been a number of times. It’s a 35 minute train ride away from DLP and really has to be seen if you get the chance! I hope to write a guide to Paris soon for you as it’s such a lovely place – and really can be done on a very small budget!
Check out our video here:
So doing Disney on a budget can be tough, but isn’t impossible. I estimate we spent around £250pp all in for 2 nights/3 days. That sounds expensive, but when you see a Disney hotel alone is £500pp for 2 nights, it’s a steal!
TRAVEL: From the UK, there are 3 main ways to get to DLP – Eurostar, flights or bus. Some regional flights can be cheap so it’s worth looking into. Use skyscanner.net for a quick way to see cheap flights (their view calendar feature is great for a price overview). Don’t forget to factor in travel to/from the airport, or airport parking which can be costly. You will then need to either get Disney’s Magical Shuttle to the parks (an expensive €40 rtn) or a train (cheaper and faster!) – details from CDG here.
The Eurostar is the easiest way to travel by far; you’ll arrive straight into central Paris, and means you could spend the day in the city before heading to DLP. You also only need to turn up half hour before your train leaves (so less faffing than the airport!). You simply take the RER A line , which terminates at Disney (it’s really easy to use as it’s designed for tourists). All the ticket machines allow you to purchase tickets in your own language. TIP: for those under 26 years old, you can get a discount on the Eurostar (and free entrance to many museums in Paris!) We paid about £50 one way but you can get it cheaper booking in advance.
(RER train to Marne a la Valley/Disneyland. Yes that’s a double-decker train)
For those on a really tight budget, you can pick up bus tickets to Paris from £1. It’s not the most fun way to travel, but if the choice is not going at all it’s worth doing. We’ve done it 3 times now; we took an overnight bus back for £20pp on this visit. Good for cost savings, not so good for comfort/time. You can go from London Victoria (or other European destinations) to Paris, right next to a metro stop, so it is convenient.
ACCOMMODATION: You can count out the Disney hotels. Even with all my budget finding skills, it was way outta budget – and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s worth the extra money if you don’t have a lot. You do get your park tickets included though. There’s a whole host of hostels and hotels in the area for a fraction of the price, with most offering free shuttle buses to the park, which is also where the train station is situated (our bus took 10-15 minutes and were very frequent. You get to spy on other hotels too!). Just use a site such as hotels.com to search for hotels nearby. TIP: hotels.com and other sites allow you to collect points for free hotel nights everytime you book with them – worthwhile if you’re going for a few days! We stayed at the Explorers Hotel.
We got breakfast included, as well as access to the indoor waterpark (which we were too tired to use!) and the free shuttle bus for about £70 pp for 2 nights. TIP: Sad news for the lads – if you go swimming in pools in France, you can’t wear typical swim shorts – only Speedo/briefs or tight shorts allowed! There’s other cheaper, but good quality hotels about too depending what you’re after! I’m sure you could find something to suit any budget nearby. If you want to be super thrifty, there are Aparthotels in the area – where you’ll have your own kitchen in which you can cook. We used one in Paris and it was excellent.
FOOD: Food in the parks was really expensive. Even expecting that, I was still shocked – you’re looking between €20-40 for one main meal, no drinks. We got fresh pizza in our hotel instead for about €10. You could also take a picnic into the park (no alcohol). One stop down the train line (approx. €1.70 ticket) there’s the huge Val D’Europe shopping centre. It’s mainly full of upmarket fashion shops, but handily there’s a gigantic Auchan supermarket there. We made a stop on the way and picked up some snacks for the next few days and saved a fortune. TIP: They won’t let you in the supermarket with your suitcases (or bulky rucksacks!) – we made this mistake and Rob had to sit outside on his own! It’s fine if you’re prepared. There’s a also a McDonald’s next to the station at Disney if you’re that way inclined.
PARK TICKETS: If you want to save money, don’t buy direct from Disney – you can always get it cheaper elsewhere! The best site to use is FNAC tickets; we used them for this trip and saved €112 from the standard price on the Disney site. (We used them previously for other Paris tickets too). TIP: if you’re going for multiple days, it’s not always cheaper to use a 2 day/2 parc ticket. Disney make it hard to find the 1 day/1 parc ticket offering, but by exploiting this you can save a fortune. It does mean you can’t park hop, so look elsewhere if that’s a deal breaker, but for saving money it’s the way to go. Look out for their mini/magic/super magic tickets; you could get a reduced price using this method depending on when you go. It can be cheaper to buy an annual pass for long trips too; make sure you check prices before committing.
TIP: I’d also suggest the fastpasses are not that useful; anyone who pre-books a ticket will get a fast pass and we didn’t use it once – so I definitely wouldn’t buy it separately unless you’re going in high season. It’s more like an organised queuing system really. On weekends the parks are open late; it’s too long to go for the whole 13 hours, so I’d go later in the day after the kids go home and skip the queues (and need for fastpasses!).
I’d suggest one day per park is more than enough time, especially in the quiet periods; the Disney Village is quite small too so you can do that around visiting the parks. I’d use any extra time you have to visit Paris itself; consider a 2 centre holiday. We had an ace time a Disney; check out our vlog. It’s quite different to the US parks, and generally smaller but still great fun. You’ll find most people will be able to speak English at the parks if you need it which makes it a very easy place to visit, especially for those less well travelled.
If you have any questions or anything you want to know, please just ask me – I always put a lot of research into our trips and try to save money where I can, and I’d love to share that knowledge with you!