Planning a Disneyland Paris vacation is easier than you think – just follow these steps!
Interested in seeing Top Five Attractions at Disneyland Paris?
Or want to experience the Avengers Campus at Disneyland Paris?
Then you’re in the right place.
We’ve put together a quick start guide to planning your Disneyland Paris adventure.
NOTE: These steps work in any order.
If Step 3 is the most important for you, then move Step 4 to the top. If Step 3 is more important than Step 2, swap them.
This is a plug and play step-by-step guide. So…here we go!
Step 1: Choose Your Travel Buddies
Disney Park Nerds love going on a Disneyland Paris vacation and traveling to Disney parks with (and sometimes without) the Nerdlings. On occasion, grand-parents and other family/friends may be invited. Generally, though, we choose the “core” group first and invite people once the other steps have been completed.
Once you’ve figured out which folks are worth planning around, it’s time to…
Step 2: Select Dates
Date selection, perhaps more than anything else, will have the biggest impact on your Disneyland Paris vacation. The Disney Park Nerds will go to great lengths to avoid crowds; this is the top priority for us when planning a trip to a Disney park. An added bonus is that this typically comes with lower prices.
Of course, gather the availability of those with whom you plan to travel. From there, we always start off by considering local holidays. That’s right – we are more focused on the holidays for locals who will visit the park than our own holidays!
A quick google search yields a handful of holidays here. We will often verify the holidays on a couple of sites to ensure nothing was missed. If you MUST travel during one of these holidays, we recommend doing everything you can to not visit Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park on the actual holiday.
For some, a Disneyland Paris vacation is incomplete if the park is not decorated for Halloween or Christmas. Perhaps there is a festival or other special event. It’s also a good idea to reference rides that are scheduled to be close for refurbishment (official refurbishment schedule is here) to ensure you and your travel party do not miss a “must see”. Some resorts, like the Tokyo Disney Resort often post their refurbishment schedule as much as 6 months in advance.
Other Disney parks, like the Walt Disney World Resort, provide this list in conjunction with their calendar – generally 2 or 3 months in advance. In either case, be sure to keep monitoring this list up until your vacation so your expectations are properly set upon arrival.
Crowds are one element of date selection as they impact your enjoyment of the parks and the price you will pay for flights, lodging, tickets, etc. Another crucial element of when to travel is weather.
The Disneyland Paris Resort is situated in Coupvray (helpful when looking up weather). The winters can be brutally cold with highs averaging in the low 40s and snow at Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park is a common winter occurrence. Fortunately, the summers are more mild than any other Disney property and the monthly averages top out in the mid-upper 70s (though getting caught in a heat wave is rough going…especially when Europeans are being stingy with their ice!).
Like any vacation, grab your favorite weather app or web page and take a look at expected weather for the dates you are considering.
Using this information, we generally piece together a date range of options. Sometimes, the dates fit snuggly and the dates are the dates. Other times, there is a range and we let the price or availability of transportation and/or the hotels break the tie. So, now we are on to…
Step 3: Lock Down Flights
There are a lot of options when flying to Paris and a site aggregator like Kayak is often a great way to gain quick insight into your options. Furthermore, Kayak can provide prices for a number of dates AND allows you to select multiple airports; so you can pick schedule or price, based on importance. If the ticket prices are out of your range, check out travel sites like The Points Guy and learn how using the right Disney credit cards for every day expenses (and some great sign-on bonuses!) could lead to free flights…possibly even in a premium cabin.
There are two primary airports in Paris:
Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Orly Airport (ORY)
Both have regular service from the USA including a selection of non-stops.
Next up is securing transportation. Although you could arrange public transportation, our very strong recommendation is that you schedule car service from the airport to your hotel. We discuss this experience in depth here following a Hong Kong Disneyland trip. Although it will feel like a bit of a splurge, walking out of a Parisian airport, bleary-eyed after hours of travel and trying to find your way around or wheeling your luggage to the metro or train station is no fun. These public transportation options are great when heading home once you know your way around!
The decisions from here will include whether to start your vacation in Paris or head straight to Disneyland. Disneyland Paris official page dedicated to getting to the Resort – and it’s a “must study”.
If you’re asking us Nerds…and you might be!…we’d vote for acclimating a bit before heading off on your Disneyland Paris vacation. Disney trips are fun, though often grueling, and jet-lagged Disneyland Paris vacation might be a rough start.
Step 4: Select Your Tickets
Before actually purchasing tickets, we need to figure out our travel plan. Here are a few critical questions:
- How many days do you have dedicated to visit parks?
- Is park hopping important to you?
The Disney Park Nerds have found that 2 days will let you explore both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park and revisit some of your favorites. You can generally hit the highlights of both parks in a very busy (borderline exhausting) day while 2 1/2 days is enough time to smell the roses…just watch out for the Queen of Hearts! The past few trips, we arrived in the mid-afternoon at our Disneyland Paris Resort hotel to check-in and had a few hours to explore the parks, experience a couple attractions and get our bearings ahead of our two full days.
- Disneyland Paris offers 1, 2, 3 and 4-day tickets
- 1-day tickets may be purchased for one park or with a park-hopper to allow you to visit both
- Multi-day tickets include access to both parks each day
Although there have traditionally been some approved retailers where you can purchase tickets, sometimes at a small discount, the Nerds feel the extra few dollars is warranted for peace of mind when traveling internationally.
Money-saving Tip: The Nerds have found some great deals on Expedia for your Disneyland Paris vacation! These include hotel rooms and tickets good for your entire stay including your check-in and check-out date. These inclusive packages often include heavily discounted tickets as stays approach three nights or longer.
Step 5: Select Your Hotel
Choosing the right hotel will have an impact on your Disneyland Paris vacation. Things to consider will include cost including parking and resort fees, distance from the parks and travel time, size, bed configuration. Then, there is the whole “on property” vs “off property” discussion – generally surrounding each item mentioned above.
First things first. If you your “Disneyland Paris vacation” is a day-trip from Paris, the hotel discussion may not be relevant. If it is feasible, the Nerds still recommend one night near the parks and dedicating a day and half (instead of the “up and back” in one day). The one-day trip is doable and you will likely see more than you expect! The idea of being well rested for the early morning start, though, is really appealing.
As a general rule, we are fans of staying on Disney property whenever feasible because we think it is a more seamless Disneyland Paris vacation. The hotels themselves are okay. They are well themed and the rooms well proportioned, but the overall the amenities and services are minimal and the rooms are dated and while generally clean, they are not particularly well cared for in our experience. That being said, we are excited to check out Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel that was meant to have debuted Summer 2020…and we almost made it!
The nightly rates are expensive and, let’s be clear, you are paying for convenience. As such, the rooms prices get more expensive as you move closer to the parks. Disneyland Hotel is at the entrance to Disneyland Park and is the most expensive with nightly rates often approaching $800 or more. One the opposite side of the spectrum is Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe where room rates can be found in the high $100s/low $200s in exchange for taking a Disney bus to the parks or making the 21 minute, 1 mile walk each way.
There are seven Disney-branded hotels with standard rooms typically ranging from the high $100s to over $800/night. COVID pricing has been all over the map with some of the Value hotels dropping as low as +/- $120 per night. Here are the hotels listed by distance (and price):
- Disneyland Hotel – Deluxe and just steps from the park entrance; rated 5-stars on Expedia
- Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel – Deluxe/Moderate (new) and an 8 minute walk; rated 4-stars on Expedia
- Disney’s Newport Bay Club – Moderate and a 12 minute walk; rated 4-stars on Expedia
- Disney’s Sequoia Lodge – Moderate and a 13 minute walk; rated 3-stars on Expedia
- Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne – Value and an 18 minute walk; rated 3-stars on Expedia
- Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe – Value and a 21 minute walk; rated 2-stars on Expedia
- Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch – Moderate/Value and 5 miles away; unrated on Expedia
There are other non-Disney properties nearby, though we opt for convenience on a Disneyland Paris vacation whenever possible. Once you have honed in on your hotel selection, don’t book it just yet. Next, let’s…
Step 6 (optional): Quick Price Comparisons
Armed with your travel companions, dates, transportation plans, hotel, tickets/days in each park schedule, we’d recommend a quick price check (Blue Light Special on Aisle 5?).
Sketch out the costs of booking a la carte vs. a package. We discuss how Disney vacation packages can sometimes be quite a bit more expensive without much benefit in our Easy Disney World Vacation Tip #1 – Packages vs a la Carte article.
With a Disneyland Paris vacation, all bets are off. Sometimes a package looks good and sometimes the package is a significant premium, but it’s worth a few minutes checking out the Disneyland Paris vacation packages.
HINT: You can often find different packages by changing the country site you are viewing, though you are not generally able to book them without a credit card billing address from that country.
Despite these perceived discounts, we have found in the past few years that Expedia is almost always substantially less expensive (sometimes by 30-40%) and it is generally a value to add in your theme park tickets to your room.
Plus, Expedia’s cancellation and refund policy is, in our Nerdy opinion, more generous than the Disneyland Paris vacation packages. The added advantage here is that if you cancel your room, you are also cancelling your tickets hassle-free.
Step 7: Make Your Disneyland Paris Vacation Purchases and Prepare for Once-in-a-Lifetime Fun!
Hopefully, you have enough information to get the details mapped out for your Disneyland Paris vacation. It’s time to click “check-out” on your cart and let the moment sink in….you’re going on a DISNEYLAND PARIS VACATION!!