After two trips to DLP with young children, I have realised that the key to a successful trip is expectations. If you manage yours and your families expectations you will have a brilliant time, if you go thinking you will see everything and do everything, you will leave feeling disappointed.
We have visited DLP when our eldest was 5 and the twins 2.5 and recently when our eldest was 7 and the twins 4.5, both trips we didn’t do everything I had planned for us to do. As someone who loves Disney and loves to plan I could have easily felt disappointed. I had created a schedule which, on paper, would allow us to see all the shows, meet all the characters and ride all the rides we wanted to, but life doesn’t play out like it does on paper, unfortunately.
Although being flexible is key to a successful trip it also pays to be organised. I have outlined below some top tips that will hopefully help you on your Disneyland Paris trip with young children.
Don’t underestimate the amount of walking you will do. If your child still uses the buggy occasionally at home definitely bring it with you. If they are out of a buggy like our twins, the amount of walking is still often too much. We took Micro Trikes from Micro Scooters which are allowed in the parks, scooters, bikes etc. aren’t allowed. The Micro Trikes were the ideal solution for us and we were able to use them right up to the door of the plane too, just like a buggy. If you would prefer to see how your child gets on once you arrive you can hire buggies from the park, I believe these are around €15 per buggy per day and they do not do twin ones.
Plan in breaks
If you are visiting during the hot summer months make sure you factor in some rest time. We visited in August and the weather was hot and humid making the hours between around 1 – 4 pretty unbearable in the parks. We stayed at the Newport Bay so we would go back to the hotel and cool off in the pool before heading back into the park after dinner. Even some down time in the AC of the room will help recharge little batteries ready for the late nights which you can enjoy during the summer months.
Get the best spot
To avoid the squash of the crowds and to ensure your little ones get to see the parades make sure you pick a spot and get to it early. If you head up Main Street so the castle is in front of you and then turn left as though you are going to head into Frontierland, as soon as you turn that bit of pavement on your left is perfect. You will get a great view of the parade as it comes toward you from the left of the castle and you will get some great shots with the castle in the background.
Unlike main street this area didn’t get as busy until right near the beginning of the parade meaning you aren’t squashed in for as long. There is also a water fountain and bench so if you can’t manage the curb or someone in your party can’t, they have a good seat. We arrived around 50 minutes before the parade and we got a slice of pavement big enough to seat us all, it was perfect.
When visiting with young children for the first time the illuminations can be an uncertainty. Will they be too loud? Is it too late? Fear not, there aren’t actually that many loud fireworks, the focus is the light show on the castle with a few small fireworks added at certain points for impact. The main fireworks are saved for the very end and even those aren’t too loud for small children. My boys are all pretty sensitive to noise and none of them found the illuminations too much.
In the summer months the show is late, we watched at 11pm, but with a bit of pool/hotel chill time in the afternoon and fuelled by excitement and chocolate waffles all was fine. We got a spot to the right of the castle near to the entrance for Discoveryland, we arrived about 45 minutes before the show was due to begin and got a good spot with a clear view.
I would take a blanket/jumper/towel to sit on as people remains seated throughout the show to ensure everyone gets a good view. I took the boys iPads, it was the only time they had used them in the parks and I was glad I packed them for the illuminations, it kept the boys quiet and happy whilst we sat and waited for the show to start.
Finally take your own light up items, there are stalls selling all sorts of flashing toys which you could pick up a lot cheaper from Amazon or Ebay in advance. I took glow sticks and we made necklaces and bracelets, these also helped me to easily see the boys in the dark on the way out of the park as it is seriously busy.
I always see the below as essentials when packing a bag for the parks.
- Snacks (see my post on affordable eats for families at DLP)
- Water bottles which you can fill with free water from the water fountains
- Autograph books (brought prior to the trip as they are cheaper)
- Hand sanitiser
- Wet wipes (for all those chocolate waffles)
- Calpol and adults pain relief (you never know)
- The Disneyland Paris app for ride times and a map
- LineBerty app for character meet tickets
- Your rough schedule/plan
The more you can have to hand the better as it will save you time and money in the parks.
Top rides/attractions for young children
Our favourite rides and attractions are:
- Stitch Live
- Small world
- Casey Jnr’s train
- Alice’s Labyrinth
- Dumbo (always a big queue so head there first)
- Slinky Dog
- Mad Hatters Tea Cups
- Lancelot’s Carousel
- Flying Carpets
Top character interactions
All of the characters are great and everyone will have their own personal favourites but for us our top encounters are:
- Eeyore (Café Mickey character dinner)
- Winnie the Pooh (top of Main Street)
- Goofy (Front Lot Walt Disney Studios)
- Buzz Lightyear (Toon Studio Walt Disney Studios)
- Pluto (Café Mickey character dinner)
- Tigger (Café Mickey character dinner)
- Baloo (Adventureland near Indiana Jones ride)