Disneyland is about 20 miles to the east of central Paris. Paris Disneyland is located in the picturesque little town of Marne-la-Vallée. It became two theme parks when they added the Walt Disney Studios Park.
Each of the parks has different theme-based sections. Every section has rides, games, arcades, entertainment and dining areas. There are plenty of shops and seven hotels. The two related complexes have turned out to be France and Europe’s most visited recreational parks. That means crowds and long lines.
Knowing all this, I decided to change my programme for my second visit to avoid the Parisian heat and the other tourists. Besides I had never been to Paris in the winter. I found so many benefits, with some weather downsides.
The Paris weather in October, November and December can be very fickle. It can range from a brisk 7° Celsius with a bright sky to freezing sleet or rain. That was the only drawback. So packing plenty of warm clothes and rain protection gear was a good idea. From my previous visit I had learned to take good sturdy walking shoes. Paris Disneyland covers a rather large acreage and plenty of walking is required through the course of the visit.
Paris Disneyland is relatively quiet during the weekdays (unless there is public holiday), which makes a massive difference. During the season, waiting periods to get on rides and attractions can be between 30 to 50 minutes. In the winter that can drop to 10-15 minutes, which is a huge relief especially when you have kids and you don’t have to hang around too long in the cold or rain.
Accommodation too is very attractive. I found so many terrific discounts and packages that choosing was difficult. The best offerings were by Disney hotels. You can get healthy discounts – up to 30% – on your room rates, free stay for kids, free stay nights, free park entry tickets and rides for children.
The added benefit is that they are right next to the resort. That eliminates travel time and when either you or the kids are tired you don’t need to go far to take a break. You need to book in advance, of course, to enjoy the freebies that are genuinely great savings.
Staying close is a smart plan of action because you can get into the park early. The gates open at 8:00am. At that time you will find the queues are small so the kids (and you, if you are of a mind) can get into or on Small World, the Carousel, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Quest and Space Mountain, which are next to one another in AdventureLand.
Restaurant mealtimes are liberal. However, it is a good idea to plan your meals in advance, even when crowds at the park are smaller. That way you can guarantee a table or service for a sit down breakfast, lunch or dinner with the family. You don’t want to stand around when you and the kids are hungry or tired. It also means that you can book the kid’s favourite Disney character to come over.
The best part to visiting Paris Disneyland during the cold season is the brilliant displays, fireworks and parades in the evening. They are always spectacular. Even though they are meant to thrill the children you cannot help but get excited and find your blood rushing around.
Winter time is really fabulous at Disneyland. They put on Mickey's Magical Fireworks and Bonfire, Fantillusion and Christmas Parades. You will see the lighting up of the castle and snow on Main Street, which is really something and altogether spectacular. You get sucked right into the festive mood.
The fireworks and other pyrotechnics take place just before the park closes for the night. It is then that the wisdom of staying close to the park becomes apparent. It saves you the necessity of having to travel a great distance back to your hotel.
There is one small catch though. If you have chosen to visit Disneyland during the week, you will miss the Fantillusion Parade which happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings about 7pm.
The winter is a lovely time to go. Everything is so pretty, festive and magical for all ages.