Disneyland Paris 101

If you’re taking a vacation to Europe or you’re a diehard Disney fan like we are, then a trip to Disneyland Paris should be on your bucket list! Stepping into Disneyland Paris is similar to stepping into Disneyland Resort in California with a downtown area, 2 theme parks, and a selection of onsite hotels, most within walking distance. Even though it feels familiar, there are so many differences that every Disney-lover will enjoy! 

Disney Village

Disney Village is a small version of Downtown Disney with many restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. You’ll notice some familiar restaurants like Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks, and Rainforest Cafe. But there are several unique locations like Billy Bob’s Country Westen Saloon and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… with Mickey & Friends. There aren’t many restaurants in the parks themselves, so it’s nice that Disney Village is just a short walk away. 

It wouldn’t be a Disney park without a World of Disney shop, but there are lots of other shops to explore too. The Disney Gallery features not only Disney artwork, collectibles, and exclusive designer soft toys, but also Art on Demand, a unique opportunity to create your own Disney work of art, with a wave of a magic wand! Disney Fashion and Disney Fashion Junior are trendy fashion stores for everyone looking for the latest Disney clothes, jewelry, and accessories!

Disneyland Park

Just down the walkway are the gates to Disneyland Park! As you turn the corner you will notice people rushing to take photos of the beautiful Disneyland Hotel which sits above the park entrance. Pass through the gates and under the train station and you will see Sleeping Beauty Castle at the end of Main Street U.S.A.! The park is set up similarly to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, the main hub with each land surrounding the castle-like spokes on a wheel. There’s Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland. 

Adventureland is the place to have exciting family adventures! Hop onboard Pirates of the Caribbean on a voyage to the 17th Century, when rowdy pirates ruled seaport towns under the watchful eye of Jolly Roger. Next head up to the very top of a stunning treehouse built by the shipwrecked Swiss Family Robinson, or let the littlest pirates play at the Pirates’ Beach playground. 

Dining options include the Lion King-themed Hakuna Matata, complete with mud walls, a thatched roof and a menu of African delights including kebabs and rice dishes or a pirates’ feast of exotic seafood and Creole cooking at Captain Jack’s – Restaurant des Pirates.

Frontierland takes you back into the age of cowboys, trailblazers and gold miners. Climb steep heights and dive below raging waterfalls in this family-friendly, rattling race in a speeding mine cart on Big Thunder Mountain. Then there’s the mysterious Phantom Manor, where ghosts and spirits haunt the corridors, causing rooms to stretch, portraits to move and even mirrors to bend. Both of these are a different experience to their counterparts in the US parks! For a more laid-back experience, climb aboard one of two 19th-century-style paddle boats at Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing and explore the caves of the Rivers of the Far West.

Dining options include Silver Spur Steakhouse, styled like the old gentlemen’s clubs of the American frontier and Cowboy Cookout Barbecue where you can line dance the night away! 

Fantasyland, like the name suggests, is where timeless moments from Disney’s stories are brought to life! There’s plenty for kids and adults alike as you experience enchanting rides and get the chance to meet Disney characters such as Snow White, Cinderella and Frozen’s Anna and Elsa. Here you’ll find beloved classics like It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups. 

You can go inside of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and enjoy a retelling of the famous fairytale through illustrated books, rich tapestries, and stained glass windows. But don’t forget to go below the castle through the dark dungeon “La Tanière du Dragon” where the defeated dragon lies chained against jagged rocks.

Visit Toad Hall Restaurant to enjoy classics such as fish and chips or pasta, pizza, and Italian delicacies at Pizzeria Bella Notte. Are you ready for some character dining? Auberge de Cendrillon offers a menu of fine French fare in a setting fit for royalty, where you can mingle with princesses during a character dining experience.

Discoveryland takes you into a world of the future! Battle Emperor Zurg on Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast, immerse yourself in the world of Star Wars on Star Tours and launch yourself into Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain for a thrilling takeover of the classic Space Mountain attraction. Other great attractions include Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Orbitron. 

Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet Restaurant has an all-you-can-eat buffet bursting with pizza and pasta, a salad bar, delicious desserts, and drinks.

Parades and Nighttime Spectaculars 

Disney Stars on Parade brings the streets of Main Street U.S.A. to life with floats, music and your favorite Disney characters! Guests will enjoy viewing floats featuring a fire-breathing dragon, Peter Pan, Woody & the Toy Story gang, a Lion King and Jungle Book collaboration, Mickey’s world of magic, Disney Princes and Princesses, and more! Check the guide for times and seasonal parades too! 

The spectacularly sparkly Disney Illuminations show is the perfect ending to a perfect day at Disneyland Paris. You’ll be amazed at your favorite Disney stories as they bring a special sparkle to the skies above Disneyland Park. Queen Elsa introduces a flurry of Frozen fun, live a tale as old as time with the new Beauty and the Beast, let out your proudest Lion King roar, and for the first time ever, see Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Little Mermaid in all their glory on Sleeping Beauty Castle. The show starts at park closing. Seasonal shows may replace this one, but we promise, they are just as magical! 

Walt Disney Studios Park

Between Disneyland Park and Disney Village is the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park where guests can discover the magical scenes of Disney films and television. You enter the park into the Front Lot, inspired by Walt Disney’s Hyperion Avenue Studios in Los Angeles. The park is divided into 3 other areas – Toon Studio, Backlot, and Production Courtyard – which are full of rides, attractions, and shows! 

Toon Studio is where animation comes to life! Hop onboard a giant turtle shell at Crush’s Coaster and prepare for a wet and wild ride with some familiar faces from Finding Nemo, or shrink to the size of a rat as you join the gang from Ratatouille in a fun adventure through Gusteau’s restaurant. There’s also an adorable Toy Story Playland, where you’ll find exciting rides and toys to keep you entertained. With huge blades of grass and giant pebbles, you’ll feel as though you’re right there in Andy’s backyard with Buzz and Woody!

Join Mickey and friends for a spectacular show exclusive to Disneyland Paris. In Mickey and the Magician, Mickey is cleaning up a great Magician’s atelier when all of a sudden his dream of becoming a Magician himself takes over! A truly magical experience for the whole family to enjoy!

The Backlot is where you’ll find the Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular. Keep your eyes peeled as a few famous four-wheeled friends burn some rubber in this stunt show! There’s plenty of skidding, swerving, jumping and even flying through fire, as a hero stuntman evades some menacing pursuers armed with lightning-quick reflexes. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the spectacular world of stunts show that’s sure to leave you in a spin.

Productions Courtyard is home to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – A new Dimension of Chills and the Studio Tram Tour®: Behind the Magic. The studio tour takes you through full-sized movie sets, prop areas, and a detour through Catastrophe Canyon where a little surprise awaits you! 

You’ll find lots of shows in this area including Disney Junior Live on Stage!, Frozen: A Musical Invitation, and Stitch Live! 

There are 2 table service restaurants inside Walt Disney Studios Park, Bistrot Chez Rémy and Restaurant des Stars. Both restaurants are very popular so advanced reservations are strongly recommended by calling the reservations line up to 2 months in advance. You can also book reservations at the reception desk at your hotel.

How many days do you need? 

Most of Disneyland Paris can be seen in two days, but we recommend three days to fully experience all that Disneyland Paris has to offer. 

Sample 3 day itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrive, check-in, visit Disneyland Park

Day 2 – Visit Walt Disney Studios Park in the morning, Disneyland Park in the afternoon

Day 3 – Visit Disneyland Park, depart late to Paris or CDG airport

Sample 2-day itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrive & Disneyland Park

Day 2 – Morning at Walt Disney Studios Park, afternoon at Disneyland Park

If you need help planning your perfect vacation, contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.

Written by Adjunct Professor Leah Ferguson, edited by Professor Jess Evans

Some Photos Courtesy Disney