Disneyland Paris Travel Guide: A Perfect 1 Day Itinerary
If you've clicked on this post, you're likely wondering if Disneyland Paris can be done in a day and whether it's worth the trip. The short answer to both of these questions is YES! Whilst we would recommend a 2 or 3 day trip, it's not always possible. But with a bit of planning you CAN see the best of Disneyland Paris in just 1 day and it will be 100% worth the effort. Today we're sharing our ultimate 1 day itinerary in the parks and some of our top tips to help you make the most of your trip.
Please note: For this itinerary, you'll need a 1 day/2 park ticket. At the time of writing, you can no longer buy tickets at the gate. All tickets must be bought in advance and you must book a park reservation along with your ticket. More information here.
If you're lucky enough to have 2 days in Disneyland Paris, pleased read our 2 day itinerary here
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01. Arrive As Early As Possible
If you want to make the most of your day at Disneyland Paris, arriving as early as possible is essential. Where you are staying will determine how early you can enter the parks.
A Disney Hotel: If you're staying onsite in a Disney hotel (or have an annual pass) you will have early access to the parks, known as Extra Magic Time (EMT). The parks open early each morning to Disney Hotel guests, allowing them extra time (usually a whole hour) to enjoy the parks before other guests are admitted. If you have EMT, we highly recommend making the most of this perk and take advantage of the shorter queue times. We suggest arriving at the park about 15 minutes before Extra Magic Time begins to be one of the first in the queue. All you need to do is show your Magic Card at the park gate.
A Non-Disney Hotel: If you're not staying in a Disney Hotel, you may still be able to get into the parks early. How? Our top tip is to arrive 30 minutes before the official park opening time. It's not always guaranteed, but sometimes the cast members begin letting guests into the parks 30 minutes early. If this doesn't happen on your trip, by arriving early you'll still be one of the first Non-Disney Hotel guests into the park.
To view the park hours for the day of your visit (and Extra Magic Time if you're staying in a Disney Hotel) click here
02. Start Your Day In Walt Disney Studios Park
As much as you'll want to start your day gazing upon the beautiful Sleeping Beauty castle, we recommend you make the most of the morning's shorter queue times and start the day in Walt Disney Studios Park.
What should you do in this park?
Whilst Walt Disney Studios Park is much smaller and (let's be honest) just not as good as the beautiful Disneyland Park, it has 3 of our "must ride" attractions and our favourite show. When you enter the park, you want to follow the crowd and ride Crush's Coaster first. Usually, we don't like to follow the crowd, but wait times for this attraction are consistently high (about 1 hour long) so we recommend heading there first. After being spun around on Crush's Coaster head straight to the back of the park to ride Ratatouille: The Adventure, a fun, immersive 4D attraction. Then, if you're feeling brave enough, make your way across the park and enjoy the drops on The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror.
Once you've had your fill of rides in this park, we highly recommend heading to Animagique Theatre to the watch Mickey & The Magician which returns April 23rd 2022. This award winning stage show has become a must do on our trips to Disneyland Paris and is easily the best show we've seen in either of the 2 parks. If you haven't seen this production yet we would highly recommend taking the weight off your feet for half an hour and enjoy a bit of Disney magic. Make sure to arrive early as the show is popular and the theatre can fill up quickly.
What can you skip in this park?
Most of the other attractions in Walt Disney Studios Park are aimed at smaller children, so we would suggest passing up on these rides if you're visiting with just adults or older children. RC Racer and Toy Soldier's Parachute Drop are fun attractions for older children and adults, but if the queues are longer than 20 minutes, we would say skip these attractions.
We always enjoy meeting different characters, but with just 1 day to enjoy the parks, we would skip the meet & greets as the queues can be very long for most characters.
Unless you are a massive Frozen fan, we would also suggest missing Frozen: A Musical Invitation. Whilst we enjoyed this show on our January 2020 trip (the Sven puppet is very impressive) it is aimed at younger children and the queue times are far too long for the casual Frozen fan.
03. Time For A Quick Lunch
After a morning in Walt Disney Studios Park, we suggest heading out of the park for some lunch. As time is precious, we don't recommend a table service meal for lunch as the service across the parks tends to be a little slow. The quick service options inside Walt Disney Studios Park aren't the best (although we're looking forward to trying the new food offerings in Avengers Campus when it opens Summer 2022) so we suggest heading out of the park for lunch.
Our favourite lunch spot in Disneyland Paris is Earl of Sandwich, located at the far end of Disney Village. The service here is usually pretty quick, the queues are low, the prices are reasonable and the sandwiches are delicious. Some of our other favourite lunch spots include: Five Guys, also in the Disney Village, Café Hyperion in Discovery Land, Hakuna Matata in Adventureland and Casey's Corner located on Mainstreet USA. Alternatively, skip all the lunch time queues and bring sandwiches with you.
04. Spend The Afternoon At Disneyland Park
What should you do in this park?
Disneyland Park is a beautifully designed park. The Imagineers clearly spent a lot of time making this park feel special, so soak in the atmosphere as you walk down Mainstreet USA, especially if this is your first visit. Listen to the music, admire the design of the buildings, peer into the magical window displays and take in the sight of the beautiful Sleeping Beauty castle at the end of the "street". After taking plenty of pictures of this part of the park, head to left of the castle and visit the dragon that lives beneath the castle (look for the small sign "La Tanière du Dragon) Did you know you can walk to the top of the castle? Follow the staircase up and see the story of Sleeping Beauty told through detailed stained glass windows and gorgeous tapestries.
After admiring this beautiful park icon, head to Frontierland to take a trip on "the wildest ride in the wilderness", Big Thunder Mountain and unearth the mystery that haunts Phantom Manor before heading back across the park to Discoveryland.
Begin your time in Discoveryland by journeying to a galaxy far far away, with Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, before challenging your friends and family to a ride on Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. Thrill seekers shouldn't miss the best rollercoaster at Disneyland Paris, Star Wars: Hyperspace Mountain.
If your day has run smoothly and you have managed to experience everything on the list up to now, you might be lucky enough to have some time spare before the park closes. Here's some suggestions on what to do next:
• Scout out a good spot for Disney Stars on Parade
• Watch Mickey's PhilharMagic 4D show
• Enjoy a relaxing ride around the park on the Disneyland Railroad
• Ride some of the classic family attractions such as Pirates of The Caribbean, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It's A Small World or Mad Hatter's Teacups.
What can you skip in this park?
Unless you have small children with you, or you are a big kid at heart, we would suggest skipping other rides with queue times over 10 minutes. There's nothing wrong with these other rides, but with just 1 day in the parks, the other rides listed above should take priority. This also goes for Indiana Jones and The Temple of Peril. This rollercoaster is a little rickety, is tucked away at one end of the park and isn't worth queuing for if the wait time is more than 10 minutes.
If you're not too big into characters, you can miss Disney Stars on Parade, and use this time to ride some of your favourite rides with shorter lines. We would also suggest you skip the meet & greets as the queues can be very long for most characters.
05. Watch The Fireworks
A day in Disneyland Paris isn't complete without watching Disney Illuminations, a spectacular firework show that takes place at park close, with water effects and projections on the Sleeping Beauty castle. If you're visiting in 2022, you'll want to find your spot on Mainstreet USA early to watch the special drone pre-show, Disney D-Light, part of the special 30th anniversary celebrations. During some special events, there have been fireworks and projection shows in Walt Disney Studios Park. But with only 1 night to enjoy a show, we would always recommend Disney Illuminations in Disneyland Park, especially for first time visitors.
Don't forget to say goodbye to Mickey, who waves to guests as they leave the park. Find him at the train station at the front of the park.
06. Explore The Shops
Now is the time to wander around the shops on Mainstreet USA and pick up a couple of souvenirs to remember your special day. Even though the rides and other lands are now closed, Mainstreet USA remains open to park guests until the last guest leaves. The shops will be busy, but doing your shopping after the park closes is a great time saver and if you're lucky, you'll be able to get some pictures of an empty Mainstreet USA when you're done.
07. Grab Some Dinner And Enjoy Your Evening At Disney Village
If you're visiting in the summer months when the parks are open until 11pm, you may want to grab some food before the fireworks. But if you're visiting when the parks close earlier, rather than missing out on valuable park hours, push your dinner until after the parks close. Disney Village is a great spot to grab some food, enjoy some shopping and maybe have a drink or 2 in a bar. Annette's Diner, Five Guys, McDonald's and Earl of Sandwich are all good options if you're after a casual dinner. Crowds can be big after the parks close, however, so be prepared to queue. Alternatively, book a table at one of the restaurants at the Art of Marvel Hotel or Sequoia Lodge. You can make dining reservations 2 months before your trip on the Disneyland Paris app and we recommend you do as tables book up quick.
Some Other Things To Keep In Mind:
• At the time of writing, you can no longer buy tickets at the gate. All tickets must be bought in advance and you must book a park reservation along with your ticket.
• There are also health and safety measures in place due to Covid-19. Make sure you're fully up to date with what you need to do to enter the parks by checking the official Disneyland Paris website. These extra health and safety measures at the gate may mean longer queues at the entrance of the parks, so try and account for these when making your plans.
• If you or a member of your group has a disability: "Guests with disabilities or a Long Term Chronic Disease can request a Priority Card or Easy Access Card for certain activities and services, depending on the official document provided by the Guest." more information can be found here
• If you have visited Disneyland Paris before the pandemic, you may have been familiar with the Single Rider service and hoped to use it on your upcoming trip. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Disneyland Paris have temporarily suspended the Single Rider service. But things are always changing with Disneyland Paris and this service may be running again for your visit, so we recommend to keep updated on any changes by visiting the official Disneyland Paris website.
• If you're visiting on a busy day and want to ride popular attractions with smaller wait times, we suggest making use of Disney's Premier Access. This service, simply put, is a pay per ride system which allows guests to skip the a large portion of the queues at the most popular attractions. To find out how this service works and how much it costs, visit Disneyland Paris' official website here.
• If you can, avoid visiting on a weekend as the parks will be busier, meaning the queues will be longer. We have found Tuesday - Thursday to be the quietest days.
Of course, some of these plans may need adjusting depending on what time of year you're going, how many people you're with and any specific needs or preferences you have. But we hope this has given you a good place to start when it comes to planning you day at Disneyland Paris. If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comment section below.