Living near Disneyland Paris is one of the best thing that could happen to a Disney geek like me. I’ve been to University close to the Disney parks, and it soon became one of my favorite places in the world. It is where I forget about everything in the real life, just to be happy. I know most of its little secrets, have my habits. So I decided to write an Iggle Guide to Disneyland Paris: everything you want to know even if you are not planning to come here, and everything you’ll need to know if you want to visit Disneyland Paris one day!
What’s special… in DLP?
Each Disney Park has its unique features, and DLP (short for Disneyland Paris) has obviously some! Sleeping Beauty’s castle is one of a kind, inspired by the most beautiful European real-life castles (mostly German) and its pink color makes it incredibly beautiful even when the sky is dark, or grey, of cloudy, because you know, we are in France, so the weather is not always nice. You can visit the Castle and re-live the story of Sleeping Beauty through Medieval arts (tapestries, stained-glasses…). Under the castle lives a terrible creature in the dragon cavern… A -almost- real dragon! This animatronic is beautiful and very impressive (even scary for the children). You won’t see it anywhere else in the world!
Some rides are also specific to the two parks (Walt Disney Studio and Disneyland) you can visit at the DLP resort. Phantom Manor, and all the town around it (including other rides and restaurants), have their own story and characters. The mansion itself has some very real spider webs that contributes to the frightening atmosphere of this pace. Pirates of the Caribbean is special because before Shanghai Disneyland opened, it was the only one with 2 falls. The awesome Ratatouille ride is exclusive for Walt Disney Studios in Paris: it makes you see the gigantic decorations as if you were a rat, and run from the kitchen to the restaurant, with 3D effects and smells and sensations… That’s beautiful and intense! Tip if you want to go: it’s always faster to go in as a single rider, if you are not with children.
At the end of day, when the park is closing, don’t go back to your hotel so fast… Stay for Disney Dreams, the closing show of the Disneyland Parks, which consists on projection mapping ON the castle. The image of the castle changes and shows different Disney movie-inspired scenes. And of course, there are lights, and fireworks, and water fountains. It’s a really impressive show!
The others exclusivity we have here are the Stunt Show (if you like cars and action, you’ll love it! It was created by a famous French stuntman, Rémy Julienne), that you can see at the Studio park, and the Wild West Show, outside of the 2 parks. Of course, that’s not all: the differences between the parks are in the details, the stories, or even the main lands (For instance, DLP only has 4 lands, and Tomorrowland becomes Discoveryland and has a gorgeous steampunk style…).
What’s special… for an Iggle?
Want to send some Iggle swag to your pen pals? Disneyland Paris is the perfect place! You can find a lot of cards and postcards at the Emporium shop (Main street) and almost all the pencils and pens you want. Most of the shops also have other stationery items (for children, mainly), and each hotel has their own shop with a selection of cards if you ever forgot to buy them in the parks.
If a postcard is too small to write everything you have to tell to your pen pal, I was told that you could ask the reception at every Disney hotel for a few envelopes and plain paper. Some hotels like the Disneyland Hotel and The Disney’s Newport Bay Club even have their own hotel paper and envelopes! But if you are in a more regular Disney hotel, I suggest using the notepad you’ll find in your room, because they are specific to each hotel, so it can add a special “something” to your letter.
You can go to the arcades if you want somewhere calm where you can sit at a table to write all your cards and letters. There are 2 arcades in Disneyland (on each side of Main Street), and they are absolutely gorgeous. Liberty Arcade has some surprises if you look closely, but my favorite is Discovery Arcade : the decorations are lovely, and you can find, in the middle, a nice booth selling cheap and delicious ice creams and waffles. Both Arcades can be very busy if the weather is cold or rainy, otherwise it’s a perfect place to rest for a few minutes.
Letter or postcard written, and you want to post it? You can buy stamps at the post office near the station (outside Disneyland parks) or even inside the park itself! Those will be regular stamps, sadly, not any fancy Mickey ones. The mailboxes are also available in the hotels, at the post office, and inside the main park. You’ll find at least one near City Hall and another on Main Street.
Where to shop at DLP?
Shopping is obviously one of the main attractions of those parks. Whether you want something special for yourself, for you pen pals or your family, I bet you’ll find anything you want. You can find exclusives items, made for DLP only (such as hotel and attraction pins), a Parisian Minnie clothing collection… I should say a LOVELY Parisian Minnie collection. With new items every year or seasons!
The main park has specific shops if you are searching for:
- Christmas decorations (all year-long)
- glass items (made on-site!)
- hats and accessories
- items for babies…
There are even other shops (decoration, fashion, babies) outside the parks, at Disney Village, a free entry shopping mall. There, you can find a Disney Store and World of Disney, which is an enormous shop featuring almost everything you can find in the parks (perfect if you forgot to buy something inside).
Themed shops are also a thing: you can find special Pirates products at the Pirates of the Caribbean store, Indiana Jones outside the ride, and some Phantom Manor shirts at a booth near the Manor. The big shop near the Manor also sells native American and cowboy stuffs, plus some Phantom Manor things from time to time. Hidden from the guests is the Pueblo Trading Post, a place where you can find exclusive pins and trade them. Outside of the Buzz Lightyear ride is a special Toy Story and space shop. There used to be a Star Wars shop not far from here, and since it’s closed for now, I just wish it will open again soon! Oh, and you must have a look at “La girafe curieuse” and “Les Trésors de Schéhérazade” which are beautiful themed shops.
The Studio Park has one main store, in which you’ll find most of the Avengers/Marvel and Star Wars stuff. Otherwise, you can see smaller shops (especially one selling arts and books) in this park. The Ratatouille ride in the Studio Park even has a shop selling souvenirs from “Paris, Disneyland”. Since this ride was made for the French parks, and that the Parisian decor is so beautiful, it is definitely somewhere you want to go. I was told the restaurant there was very nice too!
Where to stay and eat?
Speaking of restaurants… where should you eat at Disneyland? Well, it depends on if you are on a budget… or not. The cheapest way to eat there is to go out of the Parks, in Disney Village. There is a McDonald’s, Earl of Sandwich of even, so if you just want to grab a club sandwich, you can do it at the train station.
There are restaurants everywhere in both parks, all suitable for every budget. I have to admit it’s quite difficult for a vegan to find somewhere to have a real meal, but it’s doable. You’ll mostly end up eating French fries and small salads, though. For non-vegan, the size of your belly is the limit. I have my own favorite restaurants, which are:
- The Golden Nugget: the place is beautiful and there are sometimes live bands playing. The food is very basic but OK.
- The Cowboy Cook-out: the food is nice (pork ribs are my favorite), and live bands are playing too.
- Auberge de Cendrillon: you’ll have to book a table a few weeks before going there, because it’s popular. The menu is hugely expensive, BUT: the food is quite good AND during the whole time you’ll be here, Disney characters (mostly princesses) will come take pictures with you. And that’s worth it!
- Cafe Hypérion: it’s basically a burger/fast food restaurant, but I like that it’s a big place, with shows on the stage (the Jedi Academy show is so cute!), and you can have a Jedi burger.
As I suppose you will be coming from far away, you might want to know what are the best options to sleep in Paris or at the parks. Actually, you have plenty of good solutions, and each one has its pros and cons. Notice that the Parks are located approximately 1 hour from the center of Paris (by train).
The cheapest solution is to choose a non-Disney hotel, either in Chessy, the city the parks are settled in, or at one or two train stations from it. You can also decide to visit both Paris AND the parks, so you might prefer to get a hotel inside Paris. Aim for one which is not far from a RER A train station!
There are also several Disney hotels or Disney affiliated hotels around the park. The Disney hotels are expensive, from “a little expensive” to “OMG I can’t pay that”, but they offer plenty of nice services (close to the parks, ticket price included in the price of the room, bonus hours before the opening of the parks, characters inside the hotels…) so for a special occasion, it add some magic. The more expensive (and beautiful and comfy) are the Disneyland Hotel (above the Park entrance) and the Disney’s Newport Bay Club.
Notice that even if you can’t afford a Disney Hotel, you still can have a drink at the hotels bar. Cafe Fantasia, at the Disneyland Hotel, is very nice, and so are the bars at the Sequoia Lodge and New York hotels. Just notice that the parks are not the best place to find good French pastries and that you may have to go to a real bakery for this!
What more to say?
DLP is a place I love a lot, and there’s a lot to do, but it’s not big compared to other Disney parks. You will be able to do most of the rides if you stay 3 to 4 days, or even less if it’s a calm period. If you only spend one day there, the best thing is to leave your luggage at the entrance of the Disneyland Park, then go to the Studio Park in the morning (this park closes earlier), and spend the rest of the day at the Disneyland Park (Fantasyland is much calmer in the evening). You’ll be able to pick your luggage up right after the closing show, and then go out for more shopping or dining outside! And definitely, going in the parks on a week day, out of the local holiday period and during summer/early fall is a good combination to have a perfect day!
You are a disneybounder? Disneybounding (which is a trend I discovered thanks to IGGPPC and that seems very popular with Iggles) is not a huge thing in France, but it’s becoming better everyday. You’ll see some disneybounders, maybe talk with them, and some castmembers will recognise yours. But that’s not much. Maybe you’ll want to make sure of which characters you can meet the day(s) you’ll be in the Park, they usually respond well to disneybound. I remember last time I was bounding as Zero, and Jack Skellington went crazy and gave me all the candies. Notice that the “no-costume” rules are strict in Paris, so be careful not to cross the line between “disneybound” and “cosplay”, so nobody will bother you at the entrance.