Disneyland Paris Hacks

This article is also available in audio form as a podcast episode here:

Rides & Attractions

The rides or attractions as Disney likes to call them are one of Disneyland Paris’s the main draws. Not to undermine the scenery and atmospherics which are spectacular. However, we feel pretty confident in stating that many folks come for the attractions and stay for the beautiful ambience. Now if your like us and want to get in as many rides as possible, having a good game-plan is key. The attractions that consistently get the highest wait times in Walt Disney Studios Park are Crush’s Coaster, Ratatouille the Adventure, Tower of Terror and RC Racer. Over in Disneyland Park Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pans Flight, Space Mountain and Star Tours consistently see high wait times. Now character meet and greets are a major draw as well so remember to allocate time in to meet Mickey Mouse as well..

It’s also good to keep in mind that both parks have different operating hours… Walt Disney studios park usually closes before Disneyland Park… so a trend we’ve been noticing is that a lot of folks usually start they’re day out over at Walt Disney Studios Park and then head over to Disneyland Park in the afternoon. This usually results in lower wait times at the studios park after 15:00 (3 p.m.). However, wait times are often higher than in the sister park in the mornings.

Interior of the Star Tours Cabin at Disneyland Paris, 2021.
Interior of the Star Tours Cabin at Disneyland Paris, 2021.

A great way to get a few rides in before the crowds hit is by staying on property. At Disneyland Paris Extra Magic Time grants Disney hotel guests early access to the parks. (example: 8:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.) Times and parks available change depending on the season. This is an excellent chance to get in a few extra rides before the local crowds hit. One of the major advantages to staying on site.

Another great way to save some time waiting in line is by utilising Single Rider. Now as the name implies your party will be separated, meaning each of you will be riding in a separate vehicle. This isn’t the best option for families with children, but is great if you are traveling with young adults or adult friends.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way… here’s a sample game plan we usually go by when we start the day of at Disneyland Park. (Attractions only)

Be there when the gates open, walk down Main Street and head straight through the castle into fantasyland to Peter Pans flight… 

Don’t worry about wasting precious magic hours time taking photos at this point with the castle. You’ll get some of the best lighting at twilight, so check your preferred weather app and take those lovely photos at sunset to get that gorgeous sky and Disney lighting.

The gorgeous Columbiad Canon of Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris, 2021.
The gorgeous Columbiad Canon of Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris, 2021.

After Peter Pans flight head directly to Big Thunder Mountain. If you walk quickly (please don’t run you guys, be safe) you should be able to get in line without too bad a wait.

After leaving Big Thunder Mountain head on over to Phantom Manor, just because it’s nearby.

Then head on over to Discoveryland and do Buzz Lightyears Lazer Blast… and last but not least Space Mountain using the single rider queue…

Remember its always worth checking the Disneyland Paris app to see which attractions have the lowest wait times.

The boarding area of Crush's Coaster in Walt Disney Studios Park, 2021.
The boarding area of Crush’s Coaster in Walt Disney Studios Park, 2021.

My recommended game plan for Walt Disney Studios Park would be.

Again be there when the gates open and head directly through Studio 1 and then to your right, to Crush’s Coaster. Be quick about it because after about 15 minutes… Crush’s Coaster is rocking a 50 minute wait.

After Crush’s Coaster head to either the Tower of Terror or Ratatouille: The Adventure (if you prefer something a bit less thrilling). Those are usually the attractions that rock a longer wait later in the day.

Please note Rock n Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith is permanently closed and is being re-themed to an Iron Man coaster. Set to open sometime in 2022. Last but definitely not least, head to the Rock n Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith. After that it’s worth exploring the rest of the park. Doubling back to Crush’s Coaster to see if the Single Rider queue has opened up. Single Rider is not always operational, once the regular queue reaches 30 to 40+ minutes the Single Rider queue will usually open.

Now a good thing to keep in mind for Walt Disney Studios park is that Single Rider queues are available for:

_RC Racer
_Toon Studio
_Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
_Ratatouille: The Adventure
_Crush’s Coaster

The European Single Rider queues get as busy as the American ones. So if you’ve been to Walt Disney world, you’ll know what to expect on that front. 

Please note that as of 2021, the free Fast Pass system has been replaced by the pay-per-ride Premier Access. Another option to consider at Disneyland Paris is the Fast Pass. They are available for free in paper stub print form. Fast Pass kiosks are usually located near a Fast Pass enabled attraction. The process is quite simple, just hold your park ticket up to the Fast Pass kiosks scanner and it will print out a Fast Pass ticket with your designated return time. Just show up within the timeframe and skip the regular queue.

The following attractions at Walt Disney Studios Park are “most” worth getting a Fast Pass for:

_Ratatouille: The Adventure
_Tower of Terror

I wish I could add Crush’s Coaster to the list, however it does not support Fast Pass.

Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto interacting with park goers on the Disneyland Railroad Main Street Station, 2021.

Over at Disneyland Park:

_Big Thunder Mountain
_Peter Pans Flight
_Buzz Lightyears Lazer Blast
_Space Mountain

Also worth noting is that you can get multiple free Fast Passes in one day. Once your first Fast Pass time slot is reached, or two ours have passed you can get another one. If it is a busy day at the parks, no more Fast Passes may be available by that time.

Entertainment

One of the elements that differentiate a Disney park from other is the wide variety of entertainment. With everything from stage shows, streetmosphere, to nighttime spectaculars theres so much to see. When you arrive at Disneyland Paris be sure to open up the official app and check the daily entertainment schedule (or grab a printed copy of the Program). A lot of entertainment is only available at select times, so be sure to select your must dos at the start of the day.

Characters are usually listed in the entertainment schedule. However, they do sometimes appear spontaneously. Theres usually a cast member keeping watch over the character as well as managing the crowd. Characters are quite popular so expect similar wait times as for rides. Characters will interact with you, sign an autograph as well as take a photo with you. A lot of folks collect character autographs and the parks shops sell autograph books. You can also ask a character to sign you favourite Disney t-shirt, comic book or any other merch you like. Some characters cant sign autographs (due to movement restrictions) like Buzz Lightyear who has a stamp. Be aware that every now and then characters retreat for a couple of minutes to take a break. As well as early queue closure, cast members will close the queues if capacity is reached. So even if you are there within the designated timeframe (if its a busy day) you may not be able to meet you favourite character.

Character meet and greets are sometimes available during the extra magic hours. Which can save you a lot of time, especially if you manage to get checked off your list in the early morning. The Lineberty app is also occasionally used for Character meet and greets at Disneyland Paris. This is a separate app that you need to download (if your interested) and allows you to get a virtual place in line. You need to be in the park to make a reservation. So it’s best to get there early before all the slots are gone.

Disney Photopass photographers are sometimes available at character meet and greet locations. Keep your eyes peeled for the photo pass symbol by the meet & greet in the program. If you don’t already have a Photopass, you can get a free paper card with a code on it. After purchasing the Photopass (available at shops and some ride photo locations in the park) you can sync your previously taken pictures online with the code. You can view and download your pictures over the Photopass website. It’s also included in the Infinity Annual pass tier.

There are two types of parades at Disneyland Paris. The daily parade as well as the seasonal parades (Halloween, Christmas, etc.). The seasonal parades are usually in the afternoon and shorter than the daily ones. Usually the daily parade starts at 17:30 (5:30 pm). The route begins in Fantasyland, next to it’s a small world and runs over central plaza and finishes up near Town Square (Main Street U.S.A.). Be aware that the entertainment schedule lists the Fantasyland starting time. So if you’r standing on Town Square the parade will reach you 20 min. after the designated time. Usually people start camping out 20–30 min. before the parade starts. A great place to watch the parade is near it’s a small world. It’s usually less crowded than on Central Plaza and Main Street U.S.A.. You can also view the parade from the it’s a small world waiting area, which is raised up above ground level, and results in great views.

In the Disneyland Park you have a daily nighttime spectacular, which usually premieres before park closing. The show is a combination of projection, lights, music, and fireworks. Seasonal nighttime shows can also be enjoyed in the Walt Disney Studios Park. In past years Star Wars: A Galactic Celebration was a major runner. Once the new lake premiers in the coming years we will probably see more nighttime spectaculars in the Studios Park (it’s rumoured Fantastic will make its way to Paris).

To get the best view, you should arrive 45–60 min. before the shows start. In the castle park the show can best be viewed from Central Plaza. The closer you stand to the castle, the less people you have blocking your view. However, you do miss out on some of the grander projection effects. The ideal spot is somewhere near Caseys Corner, that way you have a great overview of the fireworks and projection effects. If it’s in you budget consider booking Castle Club at the Disneyland Hotel (or future equivalent). Castle Club grants you access to a VIP lounge with excellent views of the nighttime show.

Infinity Annual Pass holders can also book exclusive viewing areas up to 15 days, or at least 24 hrs. in advance. Viewing areas are available for:

_Nighttime Spectacular
_Most Parades

You can book these areas via the annual pass holder website or by phone.

Mastercard holders can also visit City Hall or Studio Services on the day of their visit. Benefits include reserved seating in many of the theater shows like The Lion King : Rhythms of the Pride Lands and many more. You can only use one Mastercard and make a reservation for a maximum of 4 people. Capacity is extremely limited so make sure to be at City Hall or Studio Services as early as possible. We only got lucky once out of four tries.

Captain Jack's Restaurant at Disneyland Paris, 2021.
Captain Jack’s Restaurant at Disneyland Paris, 2021.

Eats

If you really want to save time and get the most out of the park itself (as in get in as many rides on Big Thunder Mountain as possible) then head to a quick service location. Getting in an early lunch, before prime time that is, from 11:30–11:45 (a.m.) will save you loads of time. The waits are the longest between 12:00–15:00 (12–3 p.m.). Wait times will drop off after that until the 17:00–19:00 (5–7 p.m.) dinner rush. So really my tip is… if your worried about time, have your lunch or dinner off peak dining hours. 

Two quick service locations that are usually less busy are:
_Toad Hall Restaurant in Fantasyland (Seasonal Operation)
_Last Chance Cafe in Frontierland (Seasonal Operation)

If you’ve got a bit more time to spare definitely try one of the sit down restaurants at Disneyland Paris. Be sure to get your reservation ahead of time. Reservations open up two months ahead of time. So make your reservation as soon as possible or at least 3 weeks in advance. Really the sooner the better. 

Two of the most unique restaurants at Disneyland Paris are:

_Captain Jacks restaurant which is located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction (it’s always great weather in there)
_Walts on Mainstreet (which is like every mans Club 33) 

Be sure to check those out if you are in the mood for a nice calm sit down meal. Both Walts and Captain Jacks restaurant feature some of the most amazing theming at the parks.

Churros with Nutella at Fuente del Oro in Frontierland at Disneyland Paris, 2021.
Churros with Nutella at Fuente del Oro in Frontierland at Disneyland Paris, 2021.

If you are looking for some counter service restaurants that aren’t the usual burger and fries type meal check out Hakuna Matata (African) Restaurant in Adventureland and Fuente del Oro (Mexican) in Frontierland both serving up some delicious international fare. 

Now this is more of a hack for my American friends than anyone else, however you can actually purchase alcoholic beverages in the parks. Most counter service restaurants serve Beer and several table service restaurants offer a alcoholic menu. One thing to note is that you always have to order an alcoholic beverage (at the counter service locations) with a meal. So its not a great place to go to get hammered but honestly… if your looking to do that why are you in Disneyland Paris? There are much more affordable places in Europe to visit if that is your ultimate goal. However, if you enjoy a casual alcoholic beverage it’s a good thing to keep in mind.

If you forgot to get restaurant reservation or your trip was last minute and are really in the mood for a sit down mea. Head on over to Disney Village for lunchtime. It’s a short five minute walk and you will 99% of the time be able to get a seat at the restaurants in Disney village. The restaurants there only really fill up in the evenings.

View from the Castle towards the Disneyland Hotel Paris, 2021.
View from the Castle towards the Disneyland Hotel Paris, 2021.

Practical Tips

Bring a bit of cash “just in case”… pretty much all places will accept credit cards, however occasionally the card or the card reader doesn’t want to play nice. So its always good to have a back up and get that amazing Mickey Waffle your craving. 

Would also suggest to bringing or purchase a lanyard. That way you have quick access to you park tickets, fast passes and don’t have to go cramming around in your wallet every time you need to get to one or the other.

If you are staying at either the Hotel Santa Fe or Hotel Cheyenne, you don’t have to visit the crowded Starbucks at Disney village. Each respective hotel has their own near the lobby.

Walking to the parks from the on site hotels is often just as quick as waiting for the next shuttle bus to arrive. Plus its a gorgeous walk.

Main Street U.S.A., Halloween Season at Disneyland Paris, 2021.
Main Street U.S.A., Halloween Season at Disneyland Paris, 2021.

Listener Hacks and Suggestions

@dlptownsquare writes:

Small World has the best Air Conditioning of all the attractions. – This is my top tip of the day.

That is definitely worth keeping in mind on a hot summers day!

Herbert from @DLPCelebration writes:

If you are staying at a Disney hotel and have a meal plan, make sure to book your breakfast in the park’s restaurants after 10 o’clock in advance. Then, be in the park before the beginning of the Extra Magic Hours. Calculate a bit more time for the security gate! The Extra Magic Hours are most valuable time you have in the park, as the queues are short. But beware! If you want to do Peter Pan or Crush´s Coaster, head right to that attraction as these two queues fill up very quickly.

Do rides like Indiana Jones et le Temlpe du peril or Big Thunder Mountain late in the evening when people start to fill the hub and waiting for Illuminations. The queues are much shorter and the ride experience is much better. Especially the view from these two coaster onto the fireworks is amazing.

When Disneyland Park is very crowded, use the rain way as an express route. It  starts at the Liberty Arcade, runs though Ford Comstock right into the Adventureland entrance beside the exit of La Passage de Alladin, The way is the interrupted by the character meetiing point with the magic lamp and rans all the way up to Peter Pan´s Flight.

Thank you so much Herbert! Those are some excellent tips to get the most out of your day!

Koen from @cown writes:

Tired or too warm? Take a relaxing ride on the Molly Brown, it barely ever has a wait. Travelling with kids or too tired to stand up? On the first floor, there’s a beautiful room where you can sit, relax and enjoy the view!

Thank you so much Koen! That sounds super relaxing…

Published by AirMagique

AirMagique is an unofficial Disneyland Paris Podcast dedicated to the most magical place in Europe. Let's talk about everything Disneyland Paris, from park tips to history and news. AirMagique is an unofficial podcast, made with love, and is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company

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