Disneyland Paris – Part One – Planning a Family Holiday

Tips for Disneyland Paris on a Budget

So the countdown is officially on, we are less than a month until take of…well, train departure…and I thought I would start my official Disneyland Paris travel guide. First I want to take the time to talk about planning our trip, money saving tips and how to organise yourself ready for your holiday. The second part of the travel guide will be a travel diary from London to Disneyland and back again detailing as much as I possibly can about what to expect whilst you’re there. If you would like to follow our jouney whilst we are there feel free to add me on Instagram or follow my Facebook Page.

I can not tell you how excited I am to be finally taking my family on holiday abroad. This has all been possible thanks to my home business, blogging, review writing and freelance writing. Not to mention I haven’t had to book any time off work during February half term and we’ve been able to work our trip around my partners days off which are always a Friday and Saturday so he’s only had to book a few days off too. We decided on February half term as it’s one of the quieter periods in the park and it would give us something to look forward to in what is turning out to be a very bleak January.

Disneyland paris
Disneyland Paris, Castle.
Photo Credit: disneylandparis.com

Tip: Check when French schools are on their holidays. There are three zones and they usually have time off the same time as schools in the UK. The best times, I have researched, seem to be February half term if the Paris zone is off as a lot of French like to go on Ski holidays this sort of time. It might be worth checking German and Spanish school holidays too. The quietest time for UK seems to be the May/June half term week as they do not seem to have this time off. August & Christmas are the busiest times and tend to be the most expensive.

What we have booked:

Duration: 5 days/4 nights thanks to early booking offer
Hotel: Sequoia Lodge Golden Forest Club Room, Bed & Breakfast with afternoon snacks.
Extras: Lunch with Disney Princesses on Valentines Day at 12noon.
Price: £877

Transport: Non-Direct Eurostar on 12th Feb returning on 16th Feb
Price: £200

One night stay in London on Thursday 11th B&B Guesthouse
Price: £85

Sequoia Lodge Golden Forest Lake View Room, Disneyland Hotel Photo Credit: Disneylandparis.com
Sequoia Lodge Golden Forest Lake View Room, Disneyland Hotel
Photo Credit: Disneylandparis.com

We booked our trip through Thomas Cook in July which required a 15% deposit. Originally we were going to book in with Santa Fe but the prices were just coming up so expensive leaving on Saturday 13th February so we decided to risk it and book on the Friday 12th. I was expecting this to be an inset day at school and if it wasn’t we would be asking for permission from my daughters school to book the day off. As it turns out the risk paid off and the inset day came about, therefore leaving on Friday 12th saved us enough money that we could upgrade our hotel to a Golden Forest room in Sequoia Lodge, and still save money. Obviously, all school holidays are going to be more expensive but we were really happy with the price we paid especially as £145 of it was the cost of dinner with the Disney Princesses.

Tip: There is no way to know in advance who the Princesses will be when you book, however, I have read you can ask at city hall on the day of your reservation and they will inform you who you will be meeting. 

Auberge de Cendrillon, Cinderella's Restaurant in Fantasyland Photo Credit: Disneylandparis.com
Auberge de Cendrillon, Cinderella’s Restaurant in Fantasyland
Photo Credit: Disneylandparis.com

We wanted to upgrade for the fast passes and for the use of the swimming pool during the really busy times in the park and as a nice way to relax in the afternoons before heading back to watch the parade and grabbing dinner. It also ties in quite nicely with the afternoon snacks. I have heard lots of lovely things about cosying up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate at Sequoia Lodge.

However, you do not have to stay in a Disneyland Hotel to enjoy an amazing holiday. Disney have lots of fantastic partner hotels close to the park which may be more appealing for those on a budget. It entirely depends on your preferences and the size of your family to what you need for your holiday. Personally, I really like what the Disney hotels have to offer and there are a few to choose from as well as the self-catering Davy Crockett Ranch. Looking back the most common deals available include under sevens go free, 2 days/nights extra free and  a free meal plan. The type of meal plan you receive depends on the hotel you book. If it’s a budget hotel like Santa Fe or Cheyenne then you will get the standard meal plan which includes a buffet meal in a choice of seven places. Sequoia Lodge, Hotel New York and Newport Bay will get the plus meal plan with around 20 places to choose from and the Disney Hotel which is the most expensive hotel gives guests the premium meal plan which includes the character dining restaurants.

Benefits of a Disney Hotel – (Davy Crockett not included)

  • Contential Breakfast
  • Early Magic Hours – 8am – 10am – a chance for you to experience some rides and meet and greets before the park officially opens.
  • Hotel Fastpass
  • Swimming Pool Access (except for Santa Fe & Cheyenne)
  • Free Shuttlebus to and from the park
  • Luggage Storage
  • Check In: 3pm Check out: 11am

Benefits of a Disney Hotel Club Room (Golden Forest, Compass Club, Empire State etc)

  • Hot Breakfast in private area exclusive to club room guests only
  • VIP Fastpass
  • Complimentary Hot & Cold drinks at your hotel from 12noon-10.30pm
  • Complimentary Tea Time Treats at your hotel 4pm-6pm
  • Private Check-In Desk

Tip: You can take advantage of the many offers Disneyland Paris have available. I recommend a fantastic facebook group for support and advice when planning your trip as well as checking out the current offers on the French, German and Irish website. Many people call the numbers available on these websites to complete their reservation and take advantage of the price available which sometimes works out cheaper. This isn’t guaranteed but if you want the best price for your holiday then it’s worth shopping around. 

Cafe Fantasia Photo Credit: disneylandparis.com
Cafe Fantasia
Photo Credit: disneylandparis.com

Dining in Disneyland

Lots of guests decide to book a meal plan when they plan a trip to Disneyland Paris. Breakfast is usually included in a Disney Hotel and then you can either upgrade to Half Board or Full Board. Options include Standard, Plus or Premium with each one increasing in price and featuring more places to eat. Upgrading to Half Board gets you a meal at dinner time and upgrading to full board gets you lunch and dinner. We decided not to book a meal plan, however, I think if we go again we will pay for a meal plan with our booking as it will mean our spending money is ours to do with as we wish. It’s up to you how you decide to pay for meals in Disneyland Paris but if, like me, you decide to pay as you go there are lots of helpful resources to put a budget together. You can use Disneyland Paris guide to view menus and prices which is really handy. You can also book character dining such as Cafe Mickey, Billy Bob’s Wild West Show and Lunch with Princesses with your reservation – all three are also included in the Premium meal plan option. On average for 2 adults and 1 child sharing lunch most days we are expecting to pay around €25 and for dinner each night we are expecting an average of €70. Sometimes this only includes tap water to drink but as our hotel provides us with free drinks throughout the day for having a Golden Forest room.

Tip: If you want to eat at Cafe Mickey, Inventions, Auberge de Cendrillon, Billy Bob’s or Blue Lagoon it is advisable to reserve your table. You can do this up to 6o days before you go to ensure a table by calling +33 (0) 1 60 30 40 50 (charged at international rates) or you can reserve a table at your hotel reception and city hall. 

Have you got a Disneyland Paris trip coming up? What are your top tips? Tell me in the comments!





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