Best for; those seeking Disney magic in the heart of Europe.
Hello guys! This post has been so long in the making because I knew when I wrote it I wanted it to be absolutely full of information and tidbits about the park itself and what I love about it! If you’ve been reading Mile in My Glasses for a while, you might know that I have a slight love affair with Disneyland Paris… As in, it’s my favourite of the Disney’s that I’ve visited (sorry Florida, I really am! As for you California, September will tell!) and that’s for a bunch of reasons.
There are some really cute and interesting details that are unique to the Paris parks, and I wanted to cover those today – while also throwing in a good amount of tips and tricks that I’ve picked up from visiting to make your experience as quick and stress-free as possible! I’d love to hear which your favourite Disney park is and why, so be sure to let me know!
Things You Might Have Missed
Please excuse me getting super nerdy right now – but, the detail that went into this park has to be it’s shining feature. The soundscape is a great example of this: if you’re near the ice cream store on Main Street, for example, you’ll be able to hear piano lessons happening from the floor above, and if you’re in Frontierland – more accurately, towards the well, you’ll be able to hear the miners working underneath. These little easter eggs are so cool and really enhance your experience!
The Frontierland Backstory
Another favourite thing about the Disneyland parks for me are the backstories. Especially Frontierland’s. I’ll be touching on this in more detail below, but if you read this, it goes into the full story with what shops were first established, which restaurants were made for whom, and why certain theming is laid out the way that it is. It’s (kinda) geeky in all the absolute best ways, and it’s a great precursor if you have a trip coming up, or want to spice up your experience next time you return!
Things to Do and See
The Dragon Under the Castle
Did you know that Disneyland Paris is the only park in the world to have a dragon under the castle? Not only that, but you can visit the dragon’s dungeon through the back left corner of Merlin’s store for an atmospheric descent into the dungeon! There’s a bunch of stories behind why there’s a dragon under the castle at all, which you can read about here and here, too. You can also access the dungeon from the ground, by following the road immediately left when exiting Adventureland (with the castle in front of you!)
It feels like every little feature is a love letter to Disney, with its own reason and backstory to why it’s there in the first place. It’s such a great experience and something you’d have no idea about unless you stumbled across it really.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
Another great attraction that you walk through but can add a lot to your trip, is climbing Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The entrance to this is via the staircase in the castle, and every time I’ve visited there’s been no wait to climb to the second story.
While circling the bannister upstairs, you can read about the story of Sleeping Beauty – and then follow the path around, out the doors and onto a balcony that – with a viewpoint from the back of the castle – overlooks Fantasyland. It’s a great place to get some pictures, and offer another view of the park!
Boot Hill Cemetery
Another ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ attraction, Boot Hill Cemetery acts as an add-on to Phantom Manor (found in Frontierland, and also host to a super rich backstory about the entire land, which you can read about here). Built as an ode to the miners who lost their lives (in the above backstory) the Cemetery also holds graves for the Ravenswood family members – and owners of Phantom Manor – of which you can still hear their hearts beating from the graveyard you’re stood in.
If you’re interested in a comparison between Phantom Manor and the Haunted Mansion attractions of the American parks, there’s a great breakdown from the actual creative team who worked on the ride right here.
My Top 3 Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris
When Scoping Out Ride Times
There are a few tricks I save for when I’m trying to grab a quick(er) wait time for a ride, firstly – I hugely recommend that you download the Disneyland Paris app, as you can check all rides and their wait times (or if any of them are ‘offline’) at a glance. Another, to time certain rides with the shows – as everyone rushes out onto Main Street/the Castle area for the big shows and the parades, leaving a lot of the other rides with faster queues and not-so-monstrous waits.
I also suggest that you make a ride ‘hit list’, and then from that, figure out which are Fastpass rides and which you’ll have to queue up for regardless. That way you can figure out a divide-and-conquer routine, whether it means sending a party member to collect the Fastpasses while the rest of you queue or something similar!
This next tip is something that Scott and I do instinctively, but have found it to be such a saver in terms of money! If you buddy up and split the cost of any food/drinks you get, it (obviously) makes everything a bunch cheaper – which is great since the servings you get at Disneyland are pretty big, anyway! During the warmer seasons, Scott and I would always split a large lemonade multiple times a day, and it never felt extortionate (which some Disneyland dining experiences can fall into the realms of) because it was always technically only half the price each!
I also recommend eating quite light in the park, as you never know what ride you might jump on next and rides don’t mix that well with heavy stomachs – ha! Scott and I love snacking on the popcorn around the park, as well as grabbing a crepe or two when exploring the boutiques and wandering between lands!
If you’re looking for an immersive dining experience though, I can’t recommend the restaurant next to Pirates of the Carribean enough! It’s super romantic, with hanging lanterns and a dock-side atmosphere, as well as the fact that the Pirates ride actually swims through the restaurant makes it even more fun!
Explore the Boutiques
In terms of shopping, Disneyland Paris is my absolute favourite when it comes to picking up the cutest knick-knacks and clothes. Prepare yourself for this: but every single shop across the park sells different stuff from the one before. What you see in Frontierland will be completely different to the merchandise in Fantasyland, and so on. What it makes for is a fantastic shopping experience, where you can see tailored bits and bobs for each land – and stumble across some really great items to bring back as souvenirs!
One of my favourite stores has to be Lilly’s Boutique on Main Street U.S.A (Items for a Home Sweet Home)! It has such lovely stock, and if you go towards the back of the store where it merges with next door, and then to the left – there’s a great sleepwear/pyjama store too, which sells some really sweet pieces!