We have been to Disneyland Paris three times now, all of those times have been in November and December for the Christmas celebrations. Now, we are definitely no experts but I think we’ve learnt a few things from our trips and thought that it might be helpful to share a few tips for anyone considering booking a Christmas Disneyland break.
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Pick your dates carefully
Christmas is a busy time at Disneyland, that goes without saying. But it is possible to visit at a time that isn’t quite so busy. I can totally see that visiting over Christmas and New Year would be amazing, but for us it would just be too busy. So if you’re like us, make sure you pick your dates very carefully. As a general rule, the closer you get to Christmas, the busier it will be. Christmas at Disneyland starts around the middle of November so we have always found that November, or very early December is a good time to go.
It’s also a good idea to check public holiday dates in France and Spain before you book as this can have a big impact on how busy the parks will be. Similarly, weekends get very busy so I would suggest avoiding them if possible. We went Wednesday – Sunday and the weekend was crazy busy. So with that in mind, the next time we go we will book Monday to Friday to completely avoid weekends. It is also worth staying nearby to beat the queues, and while the Disney hotels are popular, a private Paris short term rental in the area is a brilliant way to avoid unnecessary crowds in your downtime.
Wrap up warm
OK, this sounds obvious right? It’s winter in Paris, it’s clearly going to be cold. But I just wanted to talk about what clothing we found worked best for us.
Layers will most definitely be your friend. When we were there last there were a couple of day where the kids actually wanted to take their coats off as it wasn’t too cold. But there were also days when it was absolutely freezing! So make sure you pack base layers, jumpers, gloves, thermal socks, hats etc.
Of course there’s always the chance of rain too, and it did rain quite heavily one day that we were there so you need to be prepared of that. Try and make sure that your coat and shoes are waterproof. Rain ponchos are available in most shops but it’s always better to be prepared. A lot of people wear Ugg boots in the parks, which is completely understandable as they are super warm and very comfortable considering that you are on your feet all day. But they aren’t waterproof so try to find something that’s warm, comfortable and waterproof.
Keep up to date with the weather forecast for the area to make sure you don’t get caught out in the rain. When you do check the weather reports search for Marne la Vallee, rather than Paris.
Make dinner reservations
This is a must at any time of year but particularly at busy times like Christmas. If you don’t make reservations you will not get a table. We saw people being turned away every single night because they hadn’t made reservations. But if you don’t mind eating at McDonalds in the Village every night then don’t worry about it 😉
When making your reservations make sure you check the menus carefully as we found that there wasn’t much choice at the restaurants in the parks. And if your children are as fussy as mine, you might find that there’s nothing on the menu that they will eat! Our favourite restaurants were actually out in the Village – Cafe Mickey and King Ludwig’s Castle.
Making reservations isn’t easy unfortunately and for us involved a lot of time on the phone and a pretty big phone bill, but it’s just something that has to be done. I just wish that Disneyland would set up some sort of online reservation system, it would make life so much easier.
I would strongly advise that you keep some snacks in your bag for the children as otherwise it gets very expensive. This trip was our first with the kids (the first two times were before we had them), and we apparently forgot how many snacks kids eat! There are tons of snack stalls and shops around but if you use them all the time (like we did!) it quickly gets expensive.
Also if at lunchtime you are struggling to to find somewhere to eat, you can at least keep the kids going with some snacks for a while. And of course snacks are a total lifesaver when queuing.
Consider taking a pushchair
My children are four and six and my youngest hasn’t used a pushchair since she was two, so it never even crossed my mind that we might need a pushchair at Disneyland. But there is SO much walking involved and the days are very long, so it’s definitely worth considering. I’ll be honest and admit that my two moaned about all the walking, a lot! My youngest wanted to be carried all the time so a pushchair would have been a lifesaver for us.
We realised on the very last day that we could have actually hired a buggy while we were there, so the next time we go we will definitely be doing that if we need to. Quite honestly I would have happily sat in a pushchair myself my feet were so sore by the end of the trip!
Of course it all depends on your kids and how much walking they are used to doing, but definitely keep it in mind because it is a lot to ask of little ones.
Plan, plan, plan
Make an itinerary and stick to it. There is so much to do at Disneyland and the chances are you won’t get time to do everything. So prioritise the things that you want to do.
Start by downloading the Disneyland Paris app which is fantastic for planning and actually tells you things like queue waiting times. You can also use the app to check out parade and fireworks times and figure out exactly where you need to be. Make sure you get there early or you won’t get a good view, particularly at the fireworks shows. The same goes for character meet and greets, find out where the characters are going to be and at what time, making sure you get there early. Again, prioritise which characters your children want to see the most because you probably won’t get time to see them all.
Also take advantage of your extra magic hours, which are available to Disney hotel guests, and fast passes if you have them.
Have you ever visited Disneyland Paris at Christmas?
Thank you for reading.