Try saying that three times fast! Thanks to Jessica for these great tips on how to get more bang for your buck at Disneyland Paris.
If a trip to an international Disney park is on your bucket list but you think that you can’t afford it – I’m here to help! Disneyland Paris can fit in to just about any budget if you follow these simple tricks:
1. Go In The Off Season
If at all possible, travel in the shoulder season (April, May, October, November). The weather is quite nice – you may need to pack a sweater but you also won’t need to be concerned with overheating in the European lack of central air conditioning. Additionally, you won’t need to worry about the big summer crowds that can sometimes bring the wait times for certain attractions to over two hours both at Disneyland Park and many of the tourist sites in Paris.
The shoulder/off-season will also allow you to find the best deals for your airfare. Many airlines will run special fares and sales to get more people to book in this time. Affordable non-stop options are very frequently available from major cities such as New York, Boston and Ft. Lauderdale. Also of note: there are a few low-cost European carriers who operate non-stop flights from Orlando if you’d like to create an ultimate Disney park hopping experience!
Be sure to check to make sure your desired dates do not occur during a break period for UK schools, however, as our British pals do make up the largest group of guests who travel to Disneyland Paris!
2. Stay At A Partner Hotel
While the official Disneyland Paris hotels do sometimes provide great packages – do not shy away from staying in the Disneyland Paris partner hotels. Our last trip we stayed at the Vienna House Dream Castle – the cost was nearly half of what we would have paid for one of the “on site” hotels and we absolutely loved the theming and staff.
Please be aware that you will miss out on the Extra Magic Time provided by the primary Disney hotels (like Extra Magic Hours here in the States) but if you are going in the shoulder season it is absolutely not necessary. We were able to walk-on to several attractions in the early evening (Pirates three times in a row one night!) and still loop back around to catch a great spot to view Disney Illuminations at closing.
Dream Castle, B&B, Explorers and Magic Circus are all wonderful options for your vacation and provide free bus service to the parks every 15 minutes. At the end of the night, they will typically have 2-3 buses running between the partner hotels and the Disney Village stop simultaneously. If you’re a frequent Walt Disney World traveler, it is really not so different from staying at a Disney hotel off the monorail line. In fact, I feel like I spent less time waiting for the Dream Castle bus than I typically do for Caribbean Beach at Disney World!
3. Skip The Meal Plan
If you do stay at a partner hotel, you may not have the meal plan option for your vacation. That’s okay! Believe me – you really may not need it. Meal plan options at DLP hotels include: breakfast, half board (breakfast + one other meal) or full board (three meals). The parks often open a lot later than they do here in the states (10am or so) and the partner hotels often include breakfast buffet in their rates. The best strategy is to wake up, have a large and leisurely breakfast and then head to the parks. This way you can often get away with just one meal in the parks.
You can also find some cheaper food options in Disney Village such as the tried and true Earl of Sandwich and a great little Italian place called Vapiano. If you’re planning to spend one of your days hopping between Disney Studios and Disneyland Park, it isn’t difficult at all to pop in to one of these locations to save a few Euro.
It is important to remember that in Europe, meals typically take a lot longer than they do in the states. Do not expect to get in and out of a table service restaurant in just one hour – for a character dining experience you will need to give yourself at least two hours. You can save a lot of time and money by choosing just one or two table service meals during your trip.
Quick service restaurants are everywhere in the parks and usually have three set meal options with the ability to order a la carte as well. These meal sets will typically have a salad/appetizer, the main course and a dessert. A few times this trip we were able to split one meal set between two adults and still felt full! (Note: This was not possible at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost because their pizzas are just way too delicious to share…or maybe we were just hungry that day.) If you are traveling with children especially this is a great strategy.
4. Shop Souvenirs in Disney Village
Surprisingly enough, we found a lot of our souvenirs at discount at World of Disney in the Disney Village. At least at the time of this writing, they have had an entire table out front regularly with up to 40% off some merchandise. Additionally, most stores in Disney Village have small souvenirs up near the register – these are typically very reasonably priced so you can get a lot of them for stocking stuffers, office gifts, etc.
Another great deal we found in Disney Village was in the Art of Disney store. We collect attraction posters and wanted at least one from Disneyland Paris. They had an option to create your own on either paper or canvas and have it shipped to your home (would definitely save luggage space) or, the option we went with, was a full 12 paper poster package! Fit easily in our suitcase and several of the attraction posters we will be framing here at home to give as gifts.
5. Use a Marvelous Mouse Travel Agent
Of course your best money-saving tip for any location is to use a Marvelous Mouse Travel Agent! They will always be up to date on all current promotions, time-saving tricks and money-saving tips! We are always happy to assist you in creating your dream vacation, no matter your budget or destination.