Less than one day in Disneyland Paris

January 12, 2017, 10:27 AM

So, like, I'm going to be in Paris in less than two weeks, accompanying my girlfriend on a business trip (her job asks her to shop at all the best fashion stores along the Champs Elysee, the poor thing).

Anyway, I'm mostly alone during the days, and Disneyland Paris beckons. If I go there, I'll only have until sundown, or even sooner, before I must be back in Paris.

With a fairly short window available to see DLP, what would experienced guests recommend? As a Disneyland Anaheim local, what should not be missed, and what touring strategy would you suggest? And is there any reason whatsoever to visit that other park next door in such a short time window? Thanks!

Replies (14)

January 12, 2017, 11:43 AM

My must-do's at DLP for DL/WDW fans:

1. Phantom Manor
2. Pirates of the Caribbean
3. Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (including the dragon downstairs)
4. Space Mountain
5. Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquee de Remi (at Walt Disney Studios)

Thunder gets a lot of hype, but it's the same ride as at Disneyland, plus two tunnels (one at the beginning and one at the end) to go under the Rivers of America. While I'd recommend it to visitors, if you're really pressed for time, I'd put it after the attractions above.

The two parks are located close to one another, but if you don't want to add the second gate, by all means, feel free to skip WDS - Disney's worst theme park.

I'd also try to get lunch at Walt's, if you have time to work that into your visit. Food's not great at DLP, but Walt's is a unique experience, dining on the second floor overlooking Main Street.

January 12, 2017, 1:24 PM

As much as I agree with Robert's pick of attractions, I'm sorry to tell you that Space Mountain and Pirates will be closed during your visit to the park. Both are closed for refurbishment until the next couple of months.

However, the rest of the attractions are open, and I would also advise to do Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror on the Studios. With the closure and retheming of DCA's Tower into a new Guardians of the Galaxy ride, the one in Paris is the only remaining version of the ride with that building configuration.

January 12, 2017, 2:12 PM

The Star Wars season of the force starts this weekend, but I'm not sure that there is anything worth seeing for it.
Definitely get a on the ratatouille ride. Paris has the best big thunder mountain so definitely get a ride on that.
Also the studios park still has lights motors action stunt show and their version of the backlot tours, which are no longer at hollywood studios.
Cinemagic is also a definite must do.

January 12, 2017, 3:24 PM

First off, if you have not visited DLP Guide, I highly recommend checking that site out. When I made my visit in 2012, that site was my primary information resource.

Ordinarily, I would say that you should stick with a single park if you only have a partial day. Disneyland Paris takes about 3/4 of the day to see everything, and while Walt Disney Studios only requires about a 1/2 day it is very difficult to cram both parks into a day. That said, there are a couple considerations to be made:

1. You are visiting during refurbishment season, and in preparation for the 25th Anniversary a lot of attractions at Disneyland Paris will be down. Here is the current list:

-Casey Jr. - le Petit Train du Cirque
-Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
-Disneyland Railroad Discoveryland Station
-Le Carrousel de Lancelot
-Le Pays de Contes de Fees (aka Storybook Land)
-Le Taniere du Dragon
-Pirates of the Caribbean
-Pocahontas Indian Village
-Star Tours

Essentially, that means half of the unique attractions at the park will be closed, along with substantial sections of Discoveryland and Fantasyland.

2. Due to a special offer, Disneyland Paris is currently offering a 2 park ticket for the same price as a 1 park ticket. Therefore, it would not cost extra to add on Walt Disney Studios, even if you only spend an hour or two there.

3. If you have not visited Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, much of Walt Disney Studios will be unique to you (the sole exception being Twilight Zone Tower of Terror).

Given the above, if you can stay at the resort until 5 P.M. or later (they are only open until 7 P.M.), I'd definitely recommend trying to do both parks. If you have to leave earlier than that, either do a quick lap of Walt Disney Studios just to see it or stick to Disneyland Paris.

One final thing to add here: As tempting as Disneyland Paris may be, it still takes an hour or more to get there by train. Therefore, if you would have less than 4-5 hours to spend in the parks, it is not worth spending the time to go out there. If you get there at opening and leave at 4 P.M., that should be okay (particularly for a weekday), but if you've got significantly less time than that I'd probably skip it for other Paris activities.

Now, attraction priorities. Robert's list is pretty good (minus closed attractions, of course), though I would add Big Thunder Mountain to the must-do list (it's about twice as long as the California counterpart). On a second tier list, I'd include most of the park's unique walkthrough attractions (Adventure Isle, Alice's Curious Labyrinth, La Cabane des Robinson, and Les Mysteres du Nautilus), as well as the French versions of the Fantasyland classics. Most of the park's other attractions are either similar to their California counterparts or are not particularly great. At Walt Disney Studios, the attractions worth doing are mainly the four headliners and one or two shows.

If you want to visit both parks, here is what I would recommend based on what I did:

1. Get to Disneyland Paris Resort at least 30 minutes before opening (an hour is ideal, but probably not necessary in January). Head to Walt Disney Studios first and wait in line at the gate. Unlike the California parks, Paris does not do a rope drop.
2. Once inside the park, head directly to Crush's Coaster. If the wait is 30 minutes or less, ride. If it is longer, skip it. I do believe this is one of the few rides in Paris that offers single rider, but I'm not 100% sure on that.
3. Ride Ratatouille. Do not bother with FastPass as the ride has a single rider line.
4. If you want to do any of the rides in Toy Story Playland, now is the time. Do not wait more than 15 minutes for anything in this area.
5. Cross the park to Rock n' Roller Coaster and check the wait. If it is 45 minutes or less, briefly double back and grab a FastPass for Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, then ride. If it is more than 45 minutes, get a Rock 'n Roller Coaster FastPass.
6. Watch CineMagique and Moteurs Action if you have time prior to your FastPass return window. If you have to pick one or the other, prioritize CineMagique.
7. Hop to Disneyland Paris. For this plan to be effective, you should be hopping over by 1 P.M. Once inside, head to Frontierland and grab a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain (skip Fastpass and ride if the wait is 15 minutes or less).
8. Ride Phantom Manor. If you have 30 minutes or less before your FastPass return time, ride the Thunder Mesa Riverboat. Otherwise, move to the next step and return to Frontierland when it is time to ride.
9. Head to Adventureland and walk through La Cabane des Robinson (located on Adventure Isle). If the wait is under 30 minutes, also ride Indiana Jones et le Temple du Peril.
10. Continue to Fantasyland and grab a FastPass for Peter Pan's Flight if eligible. Ride any of the following desired in any order while waiting for your return time: Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains, It's a Small World, and Les Voyages de Pinocchio. Also be sure to wander through Alice's Curious Labyrinth...allow 15 minutes to complete the maze.
11. Once finished with Fantasyland, head to Discoveryland. If Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast is under a 30 minute wait, ride. Otherwise, just walk through Les Mysteres du Nautilus and wander the rest of the area.
12. If you have any time remaining, go for a re-ride on your favorite attractions.

If you choose to skip Walt Disney Studios, just use the Disneyland Paris portion of the plan with no FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain and no 30 minute restrictions on wait times.

A few other things to note:

-Show quality is not as emphasized at the Paris parks, so don't be surprised if you see things not working or maintenance work going on in full view. It also won't look pristine the way the California parks do, but it should still look good.
-Prepare for cold weather. Expect highs in the low 40s Fahrenheit and don't be surprised if there happens to be snow. Disneyland Paris will operate rain or shine, but outdoor rides may be closed if temperatures are too cold or there is precipitation of any type.
-All employees are bilingual (English and French), with some speaking additional languages. Signage is in French, English, and sometimes German. Attractions are generally presented in a mixture of English and French. Therefore, French is not necessary to visit the park, but learning basic French wouldn't hurt.
-FastPasses in Paris only allow a 30 minute return window, and this is usually enforced. Just be aware of that when getting your FastPass tickets.

Lastly, have fun! While not the same as Disneyland California, Disneyland Paris is still a very enjoyable park, and Walt Disney Studios is okay for what it is. Expect similar but different, and you should enjoy the parks quite a bit.

January 12, 2017, 4:54 PM

Great advice from Robert and AJ. Crush does have a single rider, but it isn't usually a huge reduction on the regular standby. You basically want to hit it first thing (when the single rider queue isn't usually open anyway) or not at all. And they tend to actually let guests into the park early to start queuing for it - so you can't turn up a few minutes before and jump ahead at the rope drop. You do genuinely need to get to the gates well ahead of opening.

And I second Robert's endorsement of lunch at Walt's, if you fancy a table service restaurant. Great setting and possible the only place on site where the food genuinely impresses. Although admittedly that would be a big chunk of a limited day. For quicker options, the quality in Cowboy Cookout isn't bad, and the location of Colonel Hathi's is a delight (although the food is standard Disney park pizza/pasta).

AJ's plan is great - pretty much what I'd suggest. Although Peter Pan FPs return times will be after your planned departure, if you leave it that late to grab one. I'd say you've got to get it as soon as you get to that park or hope the standby isn't too long.

CineMagique at WDSP is one of the best things there, and not something that will ever appear in any other Disney park. (Its days might even be numbered in Paris.) Don't miss it.

Ratatouille is great and absolutely worth your time - but do get your expectations in check. It is definitely a family ride, and not the Spiderman rival I think people sometimes expect. Go in with that mindset and you'll have a great time.

Also, don't just make it about the rides. Aside from the few headliners, a lot of attractions there are either the same as their stateside counterparts or not hugely impressive. Take time to check out Les Mysteres du Nautilus as the others have said, but also the Main Street arcades, Adventure Isle and Legends of the Wild West.

Finally… I've head that the Star Wars projection/fireworks show in WDSP (which debuted last night) is brilliant. Either or Disney Dreams in DLP are worth seeing if you happen to still be around at park close.

January 12, 2017, 9:56 PM

Invaluable advice from all. Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

January 12, 2017, 11:50 PM

You should wait until the 25th anniversary start

Edited: January 13, 2017, 11:09 AM

With so many attractions down for refurbishment or maintenance and not having to worry about scoring as many rides as possible in a short amount of time, you have the opportunity to really appreciate the many obvious and subtle details that separates Disneyland Paris from the other Disneyland parks-the beautiful gardens, galleries and theming of each and every land and attraction that has been intricately laid out with thought and purpose to European artistry. The Disney brand itself is strongly rooted in European culture with many of their fairy tales based on well known European stories. There is no better place to feel that connection than at Disneyland Paris, a park built by European artisans and craftsmen. The park was gloriously realized and its beauty is in its details, not necessarily in the rides themselves. Now obviously, ride Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor, but remember to also stroll the park and enjoy the ambiance and atmosphere of a Disney park rich in detail as Tokyo's DisneySea.

Now here are a couple of recommendations for your day at Disneyland Paris:

Spend a little time at the Disneyland Hotel and Main Street USA to enjoy early 20th Century Americana at its finest! Disneyland Paris has the best version of Main Street USA in my opinion. Stroll through the arcades and shops and take a ride on a horse drawn cart or the Omnibus. It can be an extremely pleasant time spent if not rushed. There is also a particular arcade (Liberty Arcade) that begins at Main Street USA and leads into Frontierland, then through Adventureland and ends at Fantasyland near Peter Pan, all fully covered from the elements. Give it a walkthrough if you have the chance.

Spend time walking through Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the most beautiful of all Disneyland castles, and enter Fantasyland through the castle. Disneyland Paris has many beautiful vistas, and entering Fantasyland through the castle is one of them. I would also suggest you back track to the hub of the park when you also first enter Frontierland, Adventureland and Discoverland as well. BEAUTIFUL VISTAS!

Walk through Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and Adventure Isle. Both are well placed within Adventureland, are full of details and are fun to explore.

Soak in the back story of Frontierland's Thunder Mesa. Many of the props within the land set up the story of the small mining town.

In WDS, RATATOUILLE! Another fully realized land rich in detail with a very enjoyable dark ride. Hopefully, this will be the future of what this park will become.

Dress warmly and have fun Douglas!

January 16, 2017, 12:22 PM

The best two attractions at Paris are Crush's coaster and Ratatouille. You can only ride these attractions at the Paris park. I would take advantage of being able to ride these unique Disney attractions.

I've been to Paris Disneyland about 4 times and I have yet to see Walt's open.

January 17, 2017, 12:22 PM

I have to agree on Crush. I didn't want to waste time on it, but my husband was enthralled by the sight of the turtle shell cars dropping out of the building and spinning along the sandy shore. The line moved more quickly than I had expected and the ride was a lot more fun than I expected. Very glad we did it. Ratatouille was good, but not as good as Pooh's Honey Hunt. We rode it twice in about 20mins total using single riders. I was not impressed by CineMagique at all, but it is one of those one offs that you can only do in Paris.
Try to give yourself as much time as you can at the castle park. It is spectacularly beautiful. Even if you don't get to ride as many rides as you want, enjoy the aesthetics of this place. It's wonderful.
Have fun!

January 26, 2017, 9:13 AM

I'm back from Paris now. So how did it go? Quite well, and thanks to everyone here for helping to make it so.

I made it to the Disneyland Paris Resort on Monday. This was a spur-of-the-moment decision, since I'd learned just that morning that Paris' museums are mostly closed on Mondays. (Glad all the Disney details were worked out!) I finally reached Walt Disney Studios Paris around 10:15, too late for Crush Coaster (40 min. single rider). So I did Ratatouille, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster avec Arrowsmith (unique to me), and park-hopped to Disneyland Paris by 10:49. My goal was as much time in DLP as possible.

(WDSP really is not pleasant. It's basically a parking lot with attractions randomly, randomly, dispersed. Their Tower of Terror is horribly located. The whole park has less theming than a single restaurant or shop in DLP. Moving on...)

DLP I loved! Loved! LOVED!!! My goal was to "tour it," not "do every available attraction," yet I accomplished the latter too (easily) thanks to crowds, snow, and closures. Each land I entered first from the hub, per Keith's suggestion, which was fantastic. The park itself is simply gorgeous, detailed throughout to a level like Disneyland's Indiana Jones queue. Pathways meander and cirleque artfully, random in a good way. The park's copious walkthrough attractions really help get visitors in the proper mindset. Though it's larger than Disneyland Anaheim (I cannot compare WDW as an adult), these niceties made DLP seem quaint, somehow smaller and larger all at once.

My favorites were Phantom Manor and Big Thunder, partly because of how they tied together a truly epic Frontierland. Riding a roller coaster on its own dedicated island in the middle of a raging snowstorm - tremendous! Phantom Manor's spooky effect lingers well after the ride's end. With the weather, Frontierland felt straight out of "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," it - like everything else - a rich and textured reworking of familiar motifs.

Other rides, particularly the Fantasyland Classics - felt substantively like their American counterparts, but informed by 40 years of extra theme park design experience. Unlike at Anaheim, space is not an issue, so dark ride rooms feel less awkwardly scaled at times. Capacity is better. Updated effects, like we've seen recently at Disneyland, feel more organically incorporated thanks to this size difference.

As for the famous lack of upkeep, I saw almost none of that at all. The place seemed quite immaculate, construction walls aside. DLP is getting substantial aesthetic improvements leading up to their 25th anniversary this year, so I think we're seeing the results of that project already!

Overall, DLP is a treasure trove for a "mature" fan of themed parks - endlessly explorable, amazingly designed (I love how a Main Street gazebo perfectly blocks views of the castle upon entry). Where DLP falls down is in things to do - where WDSP helps out despite being a blighted eyesore. If your only touring strategy is "commando style," DLP is not for you. If, however, you're prepared to treat DLP slowly like a fine museum or meal, then its rewards are well beyond what I could grasp in under a day.

January 26, 2017, 4:38 PM

Awesome, Douglas!
Its good to hear everything worked out for you. One question, where did you eat?

January 26, 2017, 4:56 PM

Where did I eat?

I attempted Walt's, but it was closed. Actually, nearly everything was closed, including seemingly every table service and counter service restaurant. I'm told this is a common issue with DLP, which shutters eateries based on crowds and weather. I mostly survived on lattes, crepes and croissants from random carts whenever they were open.

In Paris I ate rotisserie pheasant and a spinach gratin at fireside in a Michelin star restaurant within view of Notre Dame.

Edited: January 26, 2017, 5:46 PM

Great report! Sounds like you had an excellent partial day. Disneyland Paris is one of those parks where you could see it all in a day, but you could also spend two or three days there and seek out every little detail. While it is lacking in big E-ticket attractions (even with everything open, there's really only five true E-tickets), Disneyland Paris is full of smaller things to see, and the entire park is extremely well landscaped. It also appears that they're cleaning the place up to make sure it is presented well for the anniversary, which is hopefully an indication of the future. I certainly hope to make it back some day...one full day in July is not enough, especially when split between both parks.

And yes, Walt Disney Studios makes DCA 1.0 look good. I hear the Ratatouille area is good, but the rest of the park is a mess.

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