The struggle to see and do it all in Paris is very real, and even with a month I feel like I would still be trying to fit it all in! While I would recommend more than one day, Disneyland Paris can definitely be enjoyed in a single day. In this article I will detail our recommended one day plan including alterations for younger or non-thrill seeking visitors.
Before you arrive:
- Download the Disneyland Paris app to your phone to keep up with wait times, characters, map
- Flip through website and become familiar with rides and shows offered
- Just before your visit, look at ride closures and park hour times
- Buy park hopper tickets to avoid ticket lines
- Sort your route from where you are staying to Disneyland. The RER-A metro line is wonderful!
About an hour total of preparations ahead of time will allow you to get right into the fun, and prioritize your day at Disney. This plan recommends park hopper tickets as there are a few really great rides and unique happenings in Hollywood Studios that it would be a shame to miss. If you truly don’t want to hop – then I would recommend simply Disneyland Park.
Before you arrive at Disneyland Paris: Enjoy a fairly hearty breakfast! You won’t want to spend any early hours on food, and quite bluntly there isn’t much choice in the parks anyhow so might as well eat well early on!
Arrive 20-30 minutes prior to park opening
The difference in crowds changes really quick at this park! Arriving at approximately 930 (assuming a 10am park opening) vs 10:30 will make security lines (you will go through metal detector and have bags scanned), as well as ride lines. Once through security at Disney Village (you need to go through security before entering any of the Disney hotel/park areas), head to Hollywood Studios park.
Note: Disneyland Paris has paper fastpass system, similar to USA Parks system where you scan your ticket and get a return time, able to have one at a time in most cases. This plan will put a * next to fast pass eligible rides.
Hollywood Studios Park
Starting at Hollywood Studios park head straight to the back right side of the park where you can begin your day in Paris. No, really! You’ll begin with the gift shop and Ratatouille* ride – a 3D adventure unique to Disneyland Paris at the time of this article. This area gets extremely congested as the day goes on, so starting here is a wonderful way to welcome yourself into Disneyland Paris! Grab a fastpass after riding once (if you want a second ride) – then carry on with the park.
From the Ratatouille themed area (how cute is that fountain?!) you’ll want to work your way efficiently through the park. Your goal is 3 hours maximum in this park (having you depart by 1pm). Leave the Ratatouille area by heading through the Toy Story area. Just take a quick peek unless one of the rides really speaks to you. These are very basic rides and not really worth the time when you’re trying to work through in just one day. Once you’ve seen it and taken a photo or three with the huge Buzz Lightyear as you leave the small area, the remaining areas of the park to visit (in order of visiting them):
- Crush’s Coaster worth a stop if line 20min or less (warning – this broke down both times we tried to get on it, spent over an hour just waiting to be able to get out of the line were very much stuck. I’m told this is a frequent problem.)
- Mickey & the Magician: A great show! Stop in if you’ve got time and aren’t big on thrill rides – I would pick this over most anything else in the parks for a fun show that is universally praised.
- Backlot Tour: We all wish we had skipped this. It’s incredibly dull with exception of the “thrilling stunt” moment with water and fire. Mostly you’re riding around in some trees and you pass props that have no particular interest or significance.
- Tower of Terror*: Their version was fun to hear (in French!)
- Rock ‘n Roller Coaster*: This was a much weaker version vs WDW, and we only rode once. It felt stripped down/done cheap
- Moteur… Action! This is an action packed show and if a show time works for you – go for it.
At this point make your way out of the park, stopping for souvenirs as you go through the ‘studio’ area and out of the park.
Main Street USA!
You will stroll out of the park and follow signs to Disneyland. You’ll see the impressive Disneyland Hotel (see above photo), and head towards the center – you go under the hotel to enter the park! The Main Street has some fun shops as well as a bakery and some great quick service type options for sandwiches and such – I’d recommend grabbing something here to refuel. The other option is to reverse the lunch and dinner plans (see dinner, below) – this will work better if the park hours are late. You can pop in the shops now (since this is peak hours of the park) or later – that’s up to you.
Note: Behind the shops on main street on both sides there is a covered walkway! This is a lovely often crowd-free way to make your way up or down Main Street.
Choose Adventure or Discovery..
If you’re on vacation in Europe I’m assuming that you’re going to be seeing sites, museums, and well, walking. A LOT! Rather than crossing back and forth, try to make a loop of the park. You may need to make two loops – but don’t worry. The park is small in size and easy to walk. So the choice once you have gone down Main Street is: towards Adventureland or towards Discoveryland? Either way will work well, so just switch this plan around as needed.
- Phantom Manor: at the time of this article this attraction is under construction and in a major remodel. If it’s open? Get to it and check it out!
- Thunder Mesa Riverboat: If time allows and/or the big thrills aren’t your thing this boat ride circles the island that Thunder Mountain goes on
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad* is our personal favorite ride, and Disneyland Paris has THE BEST version! You go under in a tunnel and onto an island! It is super fantastic and a lot of fun – we definitely recommend it.
Once out of this area, head towards the back of the park and to Pirates. Along this way you’ll find Adventure Isle, Skull Rock, and a myriad of awesome photo opportunities and areas to explore. If it is raining or the weather is bad, head towards the Agrabah Cafe where you’ll find a fun Aladdin walk-thru instead of the outdoor options.
- Indiana Jones*: Do yourself a favor and skip this. It is not at all themed, it’s a very poorly done outdoor coaster. There is a world of missed opportunity for theming and detail here, and quite bluntly I was embarrassed for this ride compared to the intensely amazing detail in the rest of the park.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: This ride was fantastic! We absolutely loved everything about it, and it was our #2 favorite ride at this park. Don’t miss it!
- Peter Pan * : If you can get a fast pass, great! Otherwise unless this is your favorite I would pass.
- Snow White, Pinocchio, Caroussel, etc: Much like Disneyland in California, there are a myriad of small rides here in Fantasyland good for all ages. If no lines and/or you’re ahead of schedule stop by one or two that appeal to you.
- Alice’s Curious Labyrinth: This walk-thru attraction is fun if the weather is good. You wind through the world of Alice and friends and it’s a nice break from lines.
- Casey Jr: This was a FUN and pretty fast moving fun train that rolls up and around the (very passable) little boat ride next to it.
- Small World is mostly in French – so if you ever wanted to get the song stuck in your head in another language – go for it!
Don’t miss the Castle!
You’ll want to climb to the second story to see the awesome views, tapestries, and stained glass offerings (a five minute break – worthy!). Then you’ll also want to go under the castle. In the photo above, it is the left side of the castle “the grass and trees sloping” side, if you will. There are a number of entrances- you’re looking for “La Taniere du Dragon”. This is where you can meet the dragon sleeping (and sometimes keeping an eye on you!) under the castle. Again, maybe five to ten minutes to experience and well worth the time!
Finishing this up, you can take up close photos around the castle, and it’ll be about time for a dinner break.
Dinner at Inventions!
You might have noticed that there have been no character meets so far. This is most definitely intentional! The lines run really long, and if you’ve got just one day you’d probably prefer rides and experiences. I’ve got a fix for this though, with my dinner recommendation!
We recommend Inventions Buffet wholeheartedly. The food is plentiful, fresh, and there is a wide variety for all tastes. It is inside the Disneyland Hotel, in the center section you pass under as you enter the parks. So it only takes a mere moment to hop inside the hotel and up to dinner. While expensive, you’ll meet a variety of characters, fill up on food, and rest your legs. There are a few things to note here:
- Character meals available for lunch and dinner, so if lunch time fits better into your plans – go for it!
- Call (you can prepay/use Skype for this) 60 days in advance and reserve a time/table. It regularly fills up in advance!
- Dinner tends to begin at 6pm, I’d book a table around that time assuming Disneyland is open until 10pm. If the park is closing earlier I would book 7:30/8pm or so, so that you have dinner last before returning to your hotel.
- Characters vary widely! We saw Smee, Pluto, Mickey, Goofy, Tigger, and several others. So go in expecting the unexpected – who knows!
This was our favorite meal during our time at Disneyland Paris, and one of the most recommended restaurants on property for good reason. Delicious, great way to meet characters, and worth the cost for sure.
Finishing up the day…
There are a few more things to see back in the park – including Fireworks if they are going on the night you are there. Coming back from dinner I would head the opposite direction off Main Street – in this case Discoveryland.
- Space Mountain*
- Buzz Lightyear
If time allows, I’d also walk through Mysteres du Nautilus – a fun submarine themed walk-thru attraction that has a kracken and everything.
While odds are you won’t have time to do every single attraction in a single day, you should be able to work quite a few in and have a whole lot of fun. By picking your priorities and setting a timeline for hitting certain things, you’ll be sure to get an action packed day full of fun and Disney adventure!
Be sure to stay tuned for more coverage on Disneyland Paris as I continue to share our experiences at the resort.