Who doesn't become a child again when they visit Disneyland? I grew up in a family where having Minnie ears was totally normal. We used to vacation in Orlando and Visit Disney World since we were small. It is a given I will bring my kids to Disney as soon as they can enjoy it.
But what is the appropriate age? many people think you can't make memories before you are 7, but I will say between 3-7 is when the first memories start. But it all depends in your kid. On our case, I waited for the following:
- Diaper free with no leeks
- Been able to eat by herself without making a mess
- Ability of resist and enjoy long travel, and long journeys
- Be able to have a conversation about her feelings
- Recognise what Disney is, and which characters are from Disney
Once we had all checked, we watch a Disney marathon of songs in youTube and bought some movies in Amazon, watched some in Netflix and we were ready. This was our last girls vacation before "the boy" arrives, so we took it as a Girls Babymoon.
I think Disneyland Paris is a great first Disney to visit. It is small, has just two parks and it is small enough to be able to check it all out. And they have a whole area for small kids. So first thing to do is to chose where you are staying and how long.
1. Disney Tickets
As I was super pregnant with 35 weeks, I opted for staying longer and try to do less than a regular adult does in Disneyland. I checked the hotels around and I have to say the best deal was to stay in a Disney Hotel and book it from their website. Why? well, you have loads of extras when you book with them. You don't have to buy tickets to the park. If you stay 2 nights, you have automatically 3 days tickets for both parks, a basic Fast track (no need to stand in line), shuttle buses to the parks and Disney Village and most of them have pools, babysitter services.
They have different price ranges, and you don't need to stay in the most expensive ones to have all the perks and fun! We decided for Newport Bay Club. When you stay in these hotels you have an extra magic time, meaning, you can arrive at the park at 8.30 instead of 10am, what is perfect for small kids that wake up early and the park is all yours mostly, for some pictures without masses or to get fast in your favourite attraction.
A pool is a must when you are visiting Disneyland in summer. Paris is very hot, and you need to get some water time if you want to survive the heat. So we took an hour every day, noon-ish, to cool down and jump in and out of the pool. we did some bed jumping as well, but shhh, don't tell anyone!
2. Picture with the Castle Background:
What is the most important picture when you visit Disneyland? A picture with the castle, of course! But mostly these pictures are filled with other visitors and it is kind of a war to take one good one. Some different ways to make a good picture are for example as I told you before, take a picture during the extra time of magic or take a selfie walking up the castle like these two pictures,
But there are as well many spots where you are mostly alone and the castle is right there to see. We hanged my phone on BUGABOO Fox Stroller and set a timer. We took 5 good shots with no one next to us and you could see the castle completely. Our model skill could improve though. I marked pink dots in the map some places to take your perfect Disneyland visit picture:
3. Special Passes:
Everyone can buy any of the different FASTPASS, you even have a basic one when you stay in a Disney Hotel. They are very expensive though. But Disneyland thought about those with special needs.. Handicapped kids or handicapped parents will get a special pass to go directly in the attraction without queues just getting an appointment. Pregnant women get a pink pass (the one I did) I just went to the attraction I wanted to see, got an appointment and went back later avoiding standing 1 hour for BuzzLightyear or the carrousel and important for me: avoiding swollen feet.
And last but not least: the baby switch pass: Thrillseekers with young children? You can double your time by only queuing once. If two adults are visiting together with a small kid, there's no need to queue twice! The smart Baby Switch system allows adults to queue once and then take turns riding the attraction, whilst the other watches over the little one.
For any passes you just need to go to Disneyland´s City hall once you enter the park. Be sure to have any paper that say you are pregnant or just show your big bump.
4. Characters Dinner/Lunch:
Eating in Disney and meeting characters is a MUST. But getting to say hi to Goofy or Mickey Mouse takes time. You need to check in advance where and when each character will be at and then wait in a queue for at least 30 minutes to have your minute with them.
If you want to have dinner in Disneyland Paris, you have to pay for a hotdog, fries and a soda about 20 euro and an ice cream 5 euro. A total of 25 euro per adult OR child. Not to mention the horrible service at Gibson Girl where the person working there made me bite the walls and made Pepa cry, and the Casey Corner took forever, people were smoking on their court, and the food was not even IKEA level.
So I checked the prices for dinner and lunch with characters. Why not kill two birds with one stone? I already booked the hotel with half board, so we added a fee to make those meals with the characters. But If you aren't booking half or full board, the price per kid is 35 and adult 45.
For ten extra euro or less, you can sit comfortably in a restaurant and have a three-course dinner with your family while the characters parade from table to table. They say hi, sign autographs, dance with the kids, and more.
You need to reserve in advance to be sure you won't be waiting for long. We made the reservations by phone a week before our arrival. I booked a character meal for each day at the park. And we started on Friday evening at Cafe Mickey at Disney Village.
The food was a massive improvement to the dog and fries with cola. Pepa started with a Basil minestrone, followed by a cheeseburger with fries in a Mickey Mouse plate and finishing with the cutest dessert ever. I had the tuna tartare with salmon carpaccio, sliced green asparagus, sea asparagus, sambuca cream sauce, lemon confit and, Linguini pasta with prawns with shellfish sauce. In all the restaurants, they will have a vegan and gluten-free variation! Hooray! And the Mickey dessert was the crown of the evening. They included soft drinks as well.
We stayed two hours since we sat down until we left, and Pepa got to see the characters many times, she danced with Minnie Mouse, kissed Pluto at least three times and chased Tiger around. Every 10 minutes, a character would come by, and it was fun for both of us. At the park we would have waited for 30 minutes in the heat to say hi and take a picture, here we had delicious food, it was very comfortable, and we had the time to interact with them.
It was a Menu a la carte so you had a vast amount of choices, eight main dishes on the adults menu and three for the kids ones. There was something for every person...for sure
5. Princess for a Day:
I was never a "princess type" but more of a "cowgirl type" as a kid, so I never understood the whole "princess for a day" hype. But Pepa loves Princesses and continuously talks about wanting to be one. I did some research about the Princess for a day package, and the prices go from 55-350 euro. Woaaaaah!
€55 make-up and hairstyle
€120 make-up, hairstyle, and choice of a regular dress
€180 make-up, hairstyle and one of the two prestige dress (Elsa or Cinderella)
€350 make-up, hairstyle, and the Belle premium dress
And then you have to add the dinner for the princesses price or the one hour wait at the park to meet just one of them for 3 minutes.
I decided not to get any of the packages (they don't even come with a tiara). I saw close to the carrousel some princess face-painting stations, and I bought the Belle Makeup package for 10 euro. The day before we went to Disney Village and we chose a dress and a Tiara for Pepa. The dress was 60 euro, but you can bring your own dress or use a nice one you have from home.
At the Makeup Station, they finished it off with a sprinkle of pixie dust in her hair. And taddaaahh just for a fraction of the cost you have the princess experience! Pepa was in awe! She couldn't believe she was a princess... The experience didn't stop there, Pepa was showered with compliments by Cast Members throughout the day.
And instead of spending 60 euro again in fast food at the park (and as we had half board), we went for dinner with the princesses. When you are in the park, you need to wait for over 50 minutes at the Princesses Pavillon to meet just one princess, But at the Auberge de Cendrillon in Fantasyland, you get to talk to them and take pictures and even dance with them.
The menu here is a bit more expensive, but the food is worth it. The restaurant greeted us with a princess cocktail and the amuse bouche: Fairy Nibbles. Our three-course menu was 45 euro for Pepa and 70 euro for me. Luckily, it was included in our meal plan. I had the duck trio with fig jam, and Pepa had the smoked salmon with cheese.
I was all so delicious. Many princesses already came by, and they would come to your table and speak your language. They were tender and sweet and would have a conversation. The main courses waltzed in. I had the Chefs Special: beef with three kinds of mashed potatoes. Pepa had Chicken breast with creamy tomato pasta.
Pepa is a bit shy or star-trucked, but as the princesses come by more than once and are super sweet, She had to meet all of them, from Cinderella to Belle. We stayed there about 2 hours as well, and Pepa was on the moon, she danced ballet with Belle, talked about her favorite food with Cinderella and huge Snow White. The happiness in her eyes was unbelievable.
To finish the evening, we got our desserts: a Cinderella white chocolate shoe, filled with chocolate mousse and raspberry sauce... Can I get ten more of those??
An experience you must have at Disneyland Paris! Can't wait to do it all over again! Once Otis is old enough for that (and if he likes princesses too)
6. Light Show Front Row:
One of the coolest events while visiting Disneyland Paris is the Light Show at night. It is a beautiful mix of Disney music, light, water, and fireworks. To be honest, it was so amazing; I even cried a bit every time I see it.
But one of the most important things to enhance your experience is where to sit and the wait. What I do is to go to the place (I marked it in the map) and wait and watch the guy putting the line or rope. He will put this rope not to allow people to get any closer. That is your chance! Walk with him and sit next to the rope and you are front row, baby! He will mark the place 30 minutes before the show starts.
If you travel with a toddler, take a stroller and let them nap as the show in summer starts at 10.30pm. As you see here, this is how we sat, and we had the best view and the comfiest place for Pepa. Not to mention that she passed out after the show was over and it was easier to take her rolling.
7. Parade Front row:
Yet another Front Row. It gets so hard to have an awesome place to see the closing parade. I am only 159 cm short, so even putting Pepa on my shoulders, she wouldn't be able to see the show if we don't get the right place. Most people sit down for 1 or 2 hours to get a good view of it. I can't stand the wait in summer, and Pepa is the most impatient toddler. Besides that, isn't it better to ride three times Buzzlighyear than sit down waiting?
The trick in here is almost like the one from the lights show: 30 minutes before the parade, stand on the street. They will send someone to close the road. It will be a guy telling people to walk the other way. And there is your chance! Ask if that street will be closed for the parade and stand there or sit and you will be just next to all the awesomeness of the Disney Parade. I marked the map, so you know where to stand.
Be sure to have some water and snacks with you. I used a bag to sit on the floor as it was hot. And the stroller to store the food and drinks. Just go along with the Disney people and have some fun clapping, making waves and singing for 30 minutes until the parade starts.
8. Your best friend: The Stroller
Many people told me not to bring the stroller with me. But let's face it! I can't survive without our Bugaboo Fox. And we were traveling not only by train but for a long time, pregnant with a three-year-old toddler. So I decided to bring it with me.
It was the best idea ever. Not only helped with Pepa and the long (20 000 steps days) but it helped me with carrying stuff, it was Pepa's seat at the shows, napping space and more. But is it better to rent or to bring yours? Easy answer, the rental ones aren't easy to drive, hard to spot when you are looking for yours at the strollers station, and you both are already used to it.
There are several parking spots for strollers, just be sure to bring a lock, a long one to be able to attach it to a tree or the strollers zone sign. We kept the water bottles and other snick snacks in there and just took my stroller bag to the attractions. You can leave the stroller for longer periods or time if you are going to several attractions that are close to each other.
It is so helpful in waiting lines, on the hotel shuttle, when your kid is dead at the end of the day and so on! I can highly recommend it. After walking 20K steps, I was happy I didn't have muscle ache from pushing stroller, our bugaboo drives almost by itself!
9. Breakfast with the characters:
Hotel breakfast or breakfast with characters has almost precisely the same food. And at the Disney hotels, there will always be a character in the morning to meet. But then again, the perks of having breakfast with all of them and getting earlier in the park is just super cool. And from all of the characters meals, this one is the cheapest.
For our last breakfast, I booked the character one. It is inside the park at the Plaza Gardens and has two sittings: 8.15 and 9.45. Silly me booked at 8.15, and we stayed until midnight at the Lightshow, so it was tough to wake up and get there in time, but we made it.
The restaurant is enormous, so you always see all the characters walking around. Pepa kept screaming, "Daisyyy, Daisyyy!!" when she saw Daisy Duck walking. She is her favorite character.
They took a long time and played with the kids and millennial childless couples *wink wink* And it is totally worth it when you have one kid or a big troop as they take time for every person in the table. Worth it! And if you are not staying at a Disney hotel, you will have an extra hour of magic as you are allowed in the park before it opens. But don't forget to make the reservation in advance!
10. What to pack:
What to bring with you to the park? There are several places where you can refill water. I took two metal bottles, so I didn't have to spend 8 euros every time we were thirsty. Another useful thing during summer is water mist. You can buy them in every supermarket or pharmacy in France, and they help you keep cool. There isn't much A/C in Disneyland Paris.
Bring some snacks. They allow bringing that, hell! I even saw a Hindi family eating curry from Tupperware in the park. Have cash with you and bring an empty bag as they charge you for bags. Bravo Disneyland! They stopped using plastic bags at the gift shops. Don't forget sunscreen and wet wipes. A camera is great, but we took all our pictures with an iPhone. Don't forget your smartphone as there is wifi in the park, and you can use the app instead of the printed maps.
Put a sticker to your kids clothes with your name and phone number or get those temporary tattoos. I got some from a Disney worker.
Extra tip: ALWAYS ask for help:
They will always help you! Just ask! When we arrived, Pepa got a fever, and I thought the trip was over. I asked the concierge, and they took me to a pharmacy and told me what to buy. After 20 minutes she was jumping in the pool — all at no charge.
And when Pepa wanted to go on attractions that weren't allowed for pregnant women, they sent someone to ride with her. Like in the video. Can you spot Pepa and Francisco??
It was the best babymoon every. Even though my feet were sore at the end of it, we suck in all the magic Disneyland had to offer and had a fantastic time. I hope this helps you plan your next DLP trip, but if you have any questions, just hit us up!
I am Andrea, or as my friends call me, Jinx. I am a foodie living in Berlin, eating my way through life. Here are my recipes, cooking events, dining experiences and more...