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themagician

Disneyland Paris - Tip and Tricks?

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This December I will be heading overseas on another adventure, and this time making a stop in Paris and visiting my first Disney park, Disneyland Paris.

My girlfriend and I will be staying in The Disney Village Nature Resort for two nights, but will only be visiting the parks for one of them. We have early access into the parks and will be visiting both the Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studio Park. We will be visiting the park on a Friday, and I have looked at the crowd level forecast, and they are supposed to be light crowds.

At this stage our plan is to visit Walt Disney Studio Park during the early access time and hoping to ride Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Rollercoaster and Ratatouille at the minimum. After that, we will head to the Disneyland Park, and obviously want to ride some of the classic attractions like Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, etc.

My question is, what advice do people have that have visited these parks before? Are there rides we should go for first, what things do people recommend to do, and is my plan possible (We only have time to visit for one day). And are there any food outlets in the Disney Village people recommend for breakfast? And how does the Fast Pass' work, I know you don't pay extra, and you use your entry ticket, but what is the process and best way to use it?

Edited by themagician
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Haven't hit Paris yet, but I can answer some of your Fastpass question (and so can the website)

Each eligible attraction on the fastpass list has a section near the ride where the fastpass machines are located. They sort of look a bit like a parking lot ticket machine (dispenser \ collector, not the pay machine). The machine has two slots - one for your entry ticket, and one to dispense the fastpass.

The machines will only issue you with one fastpass every two hours (or once your previous fastpass has expired, whichever comes first), so its important to maximise this time by timing yourself to be in the area to get your next fastpass as soon as you're able to.

So a couple practical examples to make sense of this -

You enter WDS park at open, and proceed to Tower of Terror, to obtain a fastpass. Its 10am, and the fastpass is for 12-12:30pm. You then go immediately to Rock'N'Rollercoaster, where as it's right at the back of the park in Backlot, there are less crowds, and you don't queue for too long - possibly even squeezing in more than one ride before the queue blows out. It's now almost 11, and you have an hour to kill before your Tower fastpass, so you work your way back through Backlot and production courtyard. Since you want to do Ratatouille, work your way across the park to Toon Studio, stopping and doing things you want to do as you go, whilst keeping an eye on the time (and not riding standby lines if the queue is longer than the time to your next fastpass window), with an aim to get to Ratatouille by 12. Since it's now 2 hours since you got your last fastpass, you can now get one for Ratatouille, so you scan your ticket, get your fastpass, which says 12:45-1:15pm. You head back to tower, walk straight on and your ride is done. It's 12:30, so only 15 minutes until Ratatouille opens. You can't get another fastpass, since its within 2 hours, and the fastpass window hasn't expired yet, so you work your way back to Ratatouille, use your fastpass, and then since your fastpass has been used, you can now get another one.

I've used WDS as its an easier \ less complex example with a straight forward park layout and only 3 attractions on the list. DLP has 6 attractions on the system, but obviously some are better than others. Consider what your must-do's are, what will be popular and have long lines, and try to plan your fastpass windows around being near those rides when your window opens.

There are definitely strategies to maximising the fastpass, and among many others that includes things like squeezing in a big popular ride early when the queue is short, rather than wasting a fastpass window on something with a short line.

This served us well on my last LA trip, but be careful you don't spend half your time chasing fastpasses from one side of the park to the other. The Disneyland parks all have a circular flow and it's easy to work your way from one side to the other without missing out too much. If you continuously run from one end of the park to the other you'll lose a lot of time that the fastpass doesn't always make back for you.

It can be helpful though to give all the tickets to one person, and get them to run on ahead to obtain the fastpass, whilst the others take their time moving to the next ride or attraction - a good opportunity for toilet stops, grabbing a bite to eat or a drink - and you can work it well where one person queues for lunch and finds a table while the other runs off for the next fastpass.

 

Enjoy - Paris is definitely on my bucket list!

 

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Head to Studios first. Grab a fast pass for Ratatouille during the early hours then line up for Crush’s Coaster. Standby queues for Tower and Rock’n are usually pretty quick.

Once in Disneyland Park grab your fast pass for Big Thunder (best version in the world IMO) then go ride Space Mountain as long as standby isn’t too long. Most everything else has reasonable lines.

Earl of Sandwich is my pick for breakfast at Disney Village, or McDonalds has some tasty options.

Make sure you’re in Disneyland park for the castle projection/fireworks show too!

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I visited DLP in December last year. When I went I did the main park before Walt Disney Studios park, even though the common advice is to do WDS first (mostly due to the wait times Crush's Coaster and Ratatouille end up with). The reason why I chose to do the main park first is because I wanted to experience the true Disney charm before heading over to the less-atmospheric park (DLP was also my first Disney park). The order you do it in is up to you, both parks have rides that need to get done early to avoid long waits.

I'll run over the two parks and give my opinion on what needs to be prioritised.

Over in the main park, Big Thunder Mountain either needs to be done first, or with a fastpass. When I went it was the longest wait in this park, and I believe this is often the case. Other rides you should aim to prioritise or get a FP for are Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain (although when I went they had both recently come out of a refurbishment, so they might be less popular now). Other tips:

  • Pirates is a fantastic ride, but is very high capacity so you don't have to worry about getting this one done early (make sure you do get it done sometime during the day though!)
  • Leave Indiana Jones unless you really want the credit, it's a horrible ride
  • Don't forget about the smaller attractions you might otherwise forget about! This is the only Disney park with a dragon under the castle, so make sure you take the time to see it, it's truly magical. The Nautilus is a cool little walkthrough you should make time to experience as well.

Then we have the other side... Walt Disney Studios. Try not to spend more than a couple of hours here - while it does have some great rides, the main park is still far superior - Walt Disney Studios just doesn't have the Disney atmosphere that the main park has.

The two rides you should prioritize here are Ratatouille and Crush's Coaster. Crush's Coaster should be the first ride you get done here - it's very low capacity (for a Disney ride) and has no fastpass system. There is a single rider queue which I would highly recommend if you end up at the end of a 90 minute queue (which is certainly possible for this ride, even on low crowd days). Ratatouille is higher capacity but is very popular, so either get a FP or utilise the single rider line for this one.

ToT and RnRC are your other priorities for this park, although shouldn't be as high as the other two (since Ratatouille and Crush's Coaster are unique to this park, at least for now). When I went RnRC was basically a walk-on, so don't worry about getting this one done before the crowds grow. ToT may have a bit of a queue, although it shouldn't be anything near as long as Ratatouille or CC.

Some general tips:

  • You're not going to get everything done in one day - I certainly had a lot more I wanted to do when I went but didn't get time. Make a plan for the day with what you want to get done (also be prepared for the plan to get thrown out the window within the first hour of your day).
  • December weather in Paris is often pretty miserable - it will be freezing cold and possibly raining (if you're really lucky you might get snow, but rain is much more common in December). Be prepared for the outdoor rides to be closed if the weather isn't too good (luckily most of the rides are indoors).
  • If you haven't already done so make sure you allocate a couple of days to seeing Paris itself - it's one of my favourite cities that I've been to and deserves a couple of days for sightseeing (I could easily spend a week there without getting bored though).

Feel free to ask if you have any other questions about the two parks. I loved DLP when I went, so I hope you feel the same way!

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The Space Mountain there is very different from the others and can be a bit rough as it has inversions. Big Thunder Mountain is the best of its type. Some attractions might have single rider queues. View some YouTubers’ (like Theme Park Worldwide) videos to get the lay of the land.

Watch out for low capacity rides and popular classics like Peter Pan. Make sure you take the time to enjoy the atmosphere of DLP. There’s lots to do and see, even if you can’t get on lots of rides.

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Thanks everyone, especially @Santa07 for that detailed insight. There are definitely a couple of the smaller attractions I want to check out, like Peter Pand Flight.

I googled Crush’s Coaster, and couldn’t find too much on it. I’m not watching any POVs as I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so what is the actual ride, other than a coaster? 

And is the backlot tour, worth it or better to not worry and focus on the rides I’ve mentioned?

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We went in July 2013 (so before Ratatouille), and it's been our only Disney Park to date.

We took the train from Paris and only had time for a one day visit. We weren't as prepared as the advice you've been given above, but did grab a few fast passes and wandered around a lot, knowing the Park hours were very long in the middle of summer. Mrs and son (10 at the time) aren't coaster people, so this was more of a balanced family visit as opposed to adults wanting to tick off the bucket list thrill rides. 

We lined up at the security screening point before general public opening. We went straight to DLP, then scooted to Discoveryland, grabbing Fastpasses on Buzz Lightyear. First was Star Tours (20 mins wait). I then went on Hyperspace Mountain (single rider). We walked through Nautilis (take an extra moment in each room to see the story with the squid). We used our fastpass on Buzz Lightyear (shooting dark ride), then ate in that area of the park (Hyperion, as it had a show on while we ate). 

We then wandered through the castle and into Fantasyland. They did Dumbo & Carousel. Peter Pan had a long wait so we went into Adventureland. We wandered through Pirates Beach, Adventure Isle (such attention to detail! Yeah I know, Disney) and a 30-45 minute wait for Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Our plan was to do WDS before dinner then return to DLP for more atractions and the fireworks. We made our way back to the front of the park through Frontierland. My main regret is not passing Thunder Mountain early enough in the day, I think all the fastpasses were gone by then. Lines were well over an hour. I took my kid on Phantom Manor (45 minute wait but really worth it). We entered WDS and split up. I went on Rock n Roller Coaster (15 mins), they did Art of Disney. We met at Armageddon (Walk-in so we did it), and they piked on Tower. Crush's was under maintenance (Ratatouille wasn't to open until the next year). We did some shopping in there as well. I'm sure we did more in WDS, but it escapes me at the moment (we missed the last Tram Tour of the day by a minute.) 

We had dinner at Earl of Sandwich in Disney Village, but seriously most places looked pretty good. Remember this was summer, so there was plenty of daylight hours to go. @themagician I'd suggest eating on the go during the day. Sit down brekky before Park opening sounds like a good idea. 

 

Back into DLP we returned to Frontierland, and again Thunder Mountain had over an hour wait. We continued back into Adventureland, and again split up. I did Indiana Jones et le Tempe du Peril, Wife and Son Robinson Tree house. We passed back into Fantasyland via the Castle, ensuring we visited the Dragon. This part of the day was for the family, so they wandered Alice's Labyrinth before dragging me onto It's a Small World. It was twilight by this time (after 9:30pm), with the fireworks not due to occur until about 11:00 iirc. We slowly made our way back past the Castle and Main Street, and jumped on the Train back to Paris.

 

This skims over a lot of things we stopped and looked at passing through and between Lands, including shops, snacks, meeting characters and the like. As @Santa07says, be prepared for your plan to be thrown out the window. But make one or two nonetheless.

It was an amazing day for us, including having a drama on the trains (we had to change lines on the way back, and found nowhere to insert our Metro tickets leading to the conductor/ticket inspector almost having a go at us until she realised we didn't speak enough French to explain ourselves) and at our end station, emerging from the Metro at Republique into a concert played by Bastille (singing Pompeii at the time!).

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2 hours ago, themagician said:

 

Is the Phantom Manor like Haunted Mansion or something completely different?

As far as I’m aware (not having done Haunted Mansion), they are very similar rides. I believe Phantom Manor is undergoing a big refurbishment at the moment so you might miss out unfortunately.

3 hours ago, themagician said:

I googled Crush’s Coaster, and couldn’t find too much on it. I’m not watching any POVs as I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so what is the actual ride, other than a coaster? 

And is the backlot tour, worth it or better to not worry and focus on the rides I’ve mentioned?

Crush’s coaster is an indoor spinning coaster. Sorta like Scooby Doo in a way - a slow themed section and then a roller coaster section with less theming - of course this is spinning and themed to finding Nemo.

I was keen on doing the backlot tour when I went but it was closed so I can’t comment on that. From what I’ve seen online it’s got a couple of cool elements but is nothing close to Universal’s tram tour.

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I went September last year.  Most of the advice given here is good.  Here’s my tips.

 Use this website as your DLP bible.  http://www.dlpguide.com/

Breakfast - Go to Maccas outside the park.  It’s nice and quick.  Just from my experience, the Monday we visited had no fast passes across either park due to the visitor numbers being very low.  Also, DLP is visually stunning and very cold,in December. Take loads of photos.

First Park - Walt Disney Studios.  Start with Crush coaster (get Ratatouille fast pass if possible.)  Then aim for Tower of Terror then Rocknrollercoaster.  Attractions like the Tram tour and Art of animation may add to the movie themed experience, but if your looking to fit both parks in one day, I’d aim to do the main 4 by lunchtime and move to Disneyland park around 1pm.

Disneyland Park.  We went straight for lunch at Victoria’s Home Style Resturant on central plaza. A counter service roast beef/turkey sandwich eatery at the budget end.  On the rides, we first went to Frontierland and BTM followed by Phantom Manor.  Both really well themed and you’ll keep lunch down.  Then on to Adventureland and Temple of Peril and POTC.  POTC is right next to Pen Pan.  Look at getting PP fast pass before going on POTC.   Fantasyland has a younger appeal.  Peter Pan is the main draw but if you can’t get a fast pass, consider if a 90 second ride is worth a 90 minute queue.  Do visit the dragons lair under the castle. It’s possibly the best animatronic display in any Disney Park.  It’s a small world is one of those “I did it once” rides.  I’ve not done it since 1992. Finally, Discoveryland.  Star Tours and Space Mountain are a must.  Again, try to work the fast pass to your advantage.

Shopping - I always have a theory of doing your souvenir shopping and the end of the day.  However, while Main Street is open until park closing, some shops around the lands may close early. (DLP is a business) So if you fancy that BTM T.shirt or mug at Thunder Mesa mercantile, buy it before they close.

At 6pm we eat at Plaza Gardens restaurant.  A bit more expensive but it was an eat all you can buffet with lots of choice.  Also,  lots of Disney characters offering photos meaning you don’t have to queue during the day.

After Dark - personally, I always found the outdoor rides the best after dark.  BTM, temple of peril and even Mad Hatters tea cups.  Have a great trip.

Edited by Adam C
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If the hotel you’re staying in is officially Disney you can get your shopping delivered there, otherwise you can usually get it sent to the gate for you to pick up on your way out

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Well all the advices put there are already very good so I don't have much to add. Been living in Paris all my life, and in fact, Disney Paris opened the year I was born :o I rarely ever visit due to high prices and not being very much into Disneyland stuff - so I'm not the most familiar with the place despite it being one of my home parks.

Even though the resort is most generally quite busy, I believe both parks are manageable in a single day too. Agree with the plan to start with the Studios (it's a somewhat lacklustre park in comparison imo..) and you should be done with this park by 13:00 at the very most. Agree too that Crush's Coaster should be done first or at least towards the very beginning of the day. It's a generic (layout-wise) Maurer SC2000 which capacity doesn't suit best the crowds of a Disney park, so it often gets 1hr+ lines.

Big Thunder Mountain's track has been refurbished a few years back. Nothing too mind-blowing of course, but it does deliver an exciting wild ride - and the setting inside an island mountain is truly impressive.

Indiana Jones has good theming and a compact layout, however I find it very uncomfortable sadly. It is an Intamin/Giovanola imitation of the Pinfari Zyklon Looping coaster. Being from 1993, it predates by a long while the amazing Intamin designs of the 00s and it shows. Nonetheless the lone vertical loop is quite intense, which makes me think the ride would much benefit from updated restraints just like Hyperspace Mountain did last year.

Speaking of which, Disney Paris' flagship ride is a very ambitious creative effort which, in my opinion, doesn't live up to its full potential unfortunately. Part of it is the 1995 Vekoma hardware which didn't aged so well (secretly I wish current Vekoma would completely redo the ride layout in line with their recent very daring designs, but that would be prohibitively expensive!), part of it is also the many rebrandings of the theming. Defunctland put it in a better way that I will, but originally Space Mountain Paris used to have a unique Jules Vernes steampunk storyline, which was an inspiring blend of French and US influences. This appeal is now mostly gone and replaced with the Star Wars theme we all know.

But enough ranting here. Have a nice visit at Disney Paris! Even for a non-Disney fan, it is an enjoyable experience that I would recomment :)
Bon voyage !

 

Edited by Coaster Hipster
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Recently I made a trip to Disneyland Paris, and wow what an awesome time we had. Unfortunately it was freezing cold, with temperatures reaching down to -6 degrees, plus strong winds as well. This was my first Disney park and I loved it all.

My girlfriend had a busted knee, so on arrival we went in to hire a wheel chair. They were very accommodating, and with this, got fast track for all rides, and only had to wait the queue time, rather than booking in advance. And on a number of occasions, the staff were very accommodating to us because of the wheelchair.

We started the day by visiting Walt Disney Studios. Unfortunately we didn’t get early access due to a ticketing issue we had at the hotel (To he explained later). We went and created our Fast Pass for Crush’s Coaster, and then went to ride Tower of Terror. I was well aware of the rides story and experience, but it was still quite a shock for how fast it dropped and went back up. My girlfriend had no idea what the ride was about, so she absolutely loved the surprise she got from it. Crush’s Coaster was also very cool and unique. I’ve never been on a spinning coaster before, and the way the track was laid out, it had some awesome air time and corners, along with a pretty good storyline.

We then went and created a fast pass for Ratatouille. With the longest wait so far, we went and explored the park a bit more and checked out its other areas. The Toy Story Playland had some decent rides and theming. The park overall did seem a bit thrown together, with rides just in places because that’s where they fit best rather than immersive zones. The shopping and dining was also minimal, but reasonable.

It was then our time to ride Ratatouille, which was great. The theming, story and immersion of the ride within the sets. If people aren’t familiar with the rude, it uses a magnetic track, with 3 cars moving throughout the ride alongside each other. It was very smooth, quick and you felt like you were within the scenes. Can’t wait to see how they improve on it with the version coming to Epcot.

The only other ride I would’ve liked to go on was Rock n Rollercoaster, but unfortunately it was having technical issues at the time. After this we made our way over Disneyland. We started by going to get lunch in Fantasyland. The food was great, and they were very accommodating with the wheelchair, by taking us to the front of the line, and moving tables around for it to fit in.

We then made our way through the park checking everything out. This lead us to Thunder Mountain to create a fast pass. Once created we made our way down Main Street, checking out all the shops. After making quite a few purchases it was time for our fast pass. As we got to the ride, everyone was exiting as the ride had just broken down (And unfortunately remained closed for the rest of the day). So we went on Pirates of the Caribbean. Definitely a great ride, and thankfully we didn’t get wet.

Continuing through the park we went to make a fast pass for Peter Pan, but unfortunately this has also just broken down. So we made our way to Tomorrowland, where we got to ride Space Mountain. While not the smoothest coaster was definitely really enjoyable. This area of the park definitely did see quite empty/uneventful, despite Buzz Lightyear having of the parks longest queues (so we have that ride a miss).

The weather did suddenly change, so we went back to Main Street and explored even more of the stores, until it cleared. Peter Pan did finally reopen so we created a Fast Pass for that. The ride wasn’t overly smooth, but was really immersive and enjoyable.

It was then time for the parade and fireworks, which were both really great. And that was it, my day at my first Disney park came to an end. 

It was a shame we couldn’t get on a couple more rides, but unfortunately the weather, ride closures (especially Thunder Mountain) and timing wasn’t always in our favour. But overall it was a great day, and can’t wait to go to another Disney park.

For two nights we stayed in the Disney Village Nature Resort, about 15 minutes drive from the parks. The resort was beautiful, and in the warmer months would be amazing, especially for families. You could spend an entire week just at the resort without even visiting the parks because there were so many activities to see and do (so I would highly recommend). The check in process was quite strange as it closed at 7pm, a bit rushed, so we couldn’t get out park tickets that night to get into the parks early (which would’ve helped a lot) and because the resort is so big, it took about 10 minutes to walk too (no issue), and the resort had very nice lighting, but not enough, so was difficult to navigate at first. The room was however very nice and had everything anyone would need.

Overall the resort was very nice, and the parks were awesome (more Disneyland because it was more immersive), so I highly recommend if anyone was in the area, but would suggest two days for both the parks to make sure you can do everything.

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