Having just booked our return trip to Disneyland Paris, I feel like we learned a lot from the first time which has been super helpful.
Choosing the right hotel
The first question is whether you want a Disney hotel or not. While they might seem more expensive, the Disney hotels actually come with a few perks which will definitely save you money.
All Disney hotels come with park tickets which include your arrival and departure dates. If you choose to book tickets separately, you’ll be limited to 4 days which means you’ll be left short if you have a 4-nights, 5-days package.
By the time you’ve purchased tickets separately, it’s not actually that much cheaper (if at all) and you’ll have the added complication of getting from your hotel to the park. Most hotels provide free shuttles, however, some don’t. If you’re looking to hire a car, a non-Disney hotel is definitely worth considering. If you want to explore Paris itself, bear in mind it’s about an hour on the metro.
Extra character meets
Each hotel hosts themed character meets every day – by themed I mean they match the theme of the hotel. We stayed at Newport Bay Club and met Minnie dressed in a nautical outfit.
All hotel guests get early access to the parks. Not only does this mean you can skip the queue, the parks are quieter so you can get on the busy rides first.
There are also some great photo opportunities with characters – again, without the queues. I got to have the cutest little photo with Eeyore!
The question you need to ask is how much walking do you want to do each day? Or additional travelling. Hotels close to the parks are typically more expensive but it’s much easier to be a 15 minute walk to the entrance as opposed to 25. However, if you need to drive, factor in the cost of parking or the added time to get a shuttle.
There’s the added benefit of you don’t feel like you need to cram everything in and be on your feet all day. We made the most of Magic Hour and then left the park around lunchtime so we could take a dip in the hotel pool and then returned for the evening show.
Travelling from CDG to Disneyland Paris
This was the part of our trip that originally had me stumped, and the Disneyland Paris website isn’t the most helpful.
So you can book the Magic Shuttle which will take you straight to your hotel and essentially fast track you into the parks but it’s quite expensive and works to a strict schedule.
You can get the metro but you’ll need to go all the way into the city to come back out again. It’s the cheapest option but definitely the most time consuming.
We opted for the fast train. It was a little on the pricey side but took about 15 minutes and was actually really easy. Just remember when you get off at the other end, there are shuttle buses that will take you to the hotels. We got really confused and the staff manning the checkpoints were really unhelpful. We could have walked through Disney Village and it would have probably been quicker but the buses are easier if you have a lot of luggage or little ones to ferry round.
Booking direct or via an agent?
In the wake of Covid, I’ve become a big fan of booking direct, even if it will cost us a little more. We got stung with booking flights via TravelUp which cost us around £750 in the end (for our cancelled trip to Zanzibar).
The benefits of booking direct with Disney mean you get a lot more flexibility and guarantees with your booking:
- Free cancellation up to 7 days before (including a full refund)
- Price match if the price goes down between now and when you’re due to travel
- Helpful contact centres if there are any issues
- We had to reschedule last time due to the park being closed and they were super helpful
- You get extra perks – at the moment you get 12 months of Disney+ for free, and when we booked last time, we got a free half board meal plan
Getting a good deal
Your dates are really important when it comes to getting a good deal so flexibility is important – not always possible with kids.
However, if you do have to travel during term time, try and avoid the peak summer or opt for a cheaper hotel. We found the deluxe hotels in off peak season were the same price as the standard hotels during peak.
The Disneyland Paris website also allows you to compare dates to see if you can get a better deal. It doesn’t always work, especially now they have their price calendar but can still be useful at point of booking.
Finally, don’t be afraid to shop around. Although we’re advocates for booking direct, we spent a lot of time deciding whether to book through Expedia for a couple of different reasons:
- Cashback would have been higher
- Combined package and flights would have been a better deal but we had an Avios Companion Voucher to use up
- I had £160 worth of credit in my Expedia account