Scott and I have been really excited to take the girls to Disneyland Paris. Our new close proximity meant that we could go fairly easily and we intended to make the most of it. It’s a short flight to Paris from Edinburgh (which means that travel to Disneyland Paris is much cheaper and quicker than it was to go to either of the parks in the States when we lived there) and then an easy bus or train ride to the parks. We have an annual pass, but we still need to plan around the girls’ school schedule (it’s quite different in the UK and you simply don’t take kids out of school for a vacation–in England you even get fined). February wasn’t our first choice for a trip, but it’s what we could do. This is what you need to know if you’re planning on going to Disneyland Paris in February.
It’s going to be cold. We could see the snow over France as we arrived. It hadn’t really occurred to me that there could be real snow at Disneyland, but there absolutely was and snowed pretty hard at times while we were there. If you think you have enough layers, put on three more and you might be ok. The ground is very wet, so rain boots are highly recommended. We didn’t have any, so brought extra socks to layer up and change into if needed.
We took the Magical Shuttle Airport Transfer from the airport to the hotel. It was about an hour. You catch it right at the airport (similar to the bus in California) and it takes you to each of the Disney hotels and to a bus station outside the park that’s near a bunch of off-site hotels (which is where we stayed).
Our first visit into the park was to get our annual passes. We paid to enter as normal, went to the office, and got our cards. We paid the difference between the price of the annual pass and the day tickets we had purchased to get in. As we left the office, it started snowing pretty hard, which was both quite pretty and a bit strange as we were used to needing a sweatshirt at most during our Disney adventures.
The weather was predominantly grey, wet, and snowy, but we did have spots of sun. To enter the park, you go through this front building that has a hotel on top. Or you can go around to the right side that very few people use and skip the queue!
Matilda had had a bad experience on a ride last year and we knew we had to ease her into riding again. A Small World was the obvious choice. It had the perk of being a pretty steadily moving line, too.
Our favorite part of any Small World ride is finding New Zealand.
There were ducks everywhere. Each time we rode Small World, we saw the same three ducks paddling next to the boats.
One of the unique attractions at Disneyland Paris is the dragon under Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. You can walk through the cave and get up close to it.
Dumbo has just as long a wait as it does in any of the other parks. When we entered the queue, the listed wait time was twenty minutes. A solid hour later and we were on.
Le Carrousel de Lancelot is large, but the ride itself is quite short. Still, it’s a favorite and the girls were happy to wait for it.
Mad Hatter’s Teacups are fun, but you can’t spin as fast as in the other parks. It’s much more of a just sit back and enjoy it ride.
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth was a big hit and we spent a good amount of time in it. It’s designed to feel like a proper maze to kids (but is actually a pretty straight shot if you’re paying attention) and letting the girls lead meant we saw every bit of it. There are plenty of photo opportunities and if you go to the top of the Queen of Heart’s castle at the end, you’ll get a fantastic view.
There are fast pass options on some rides (not as many as there should be in my opinion). Unfortunately the system was down for one of our days. Because the UK was on school holidays, the park was extra crowded and not having access to fast passes made some of our waits quite long.
Have I mentioned how cold it was? It’s easy to say that it was cold and to bundle up, but you also need to remember just how many Disney rides are in the open air. This meant that we were waiting in cold lines and then getting on a ride where the cold wind and sometimes rain was hitting us in the face.
Discoveryland has a Jules Verne style theming and you can walk through the Nautilus. Space Mountain even carries the theming. While we were there, Seasons of the Force was going on, so there was the Star Wars overlay as well.
Again, the bulk of the line is outside and part of the coaster itself is outside the building.
Let’s talk food. I’m a huge fan of Disney food and you know how much I love to eat. I was excited because Disney + Paris had to equal fantastic food–but I didn’t feel like it did. This is obviously a personal opinion, but I felt like there were very limited food options, everything was barely warm, and the Disney food standards that I love in other parks just weren’t there.
Smoking is only allowed in designated areas (something that has improved since our last trip), but it isn’t enforced. It was quite common for people to be smoking in lines or walking around in crowds without any cast members saying anything.
We found ourselves heading to Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again. It’s a long ride, a moving line, but most importantly, the line is inside and heated. The importance of finding warm spots can not be stressed enough.
Pirates seemed to be the exception to the line estimate rule–it felt like we were never in the line for as long as the listed estimate was.
Disneyland Paris has a reputation for being the prettiest Disney park, but it doesn’t show that in February. There aren’t any pretty flowers, the water was all low and dirty, and there were areas that hadn’t been weeded in quite a while. While I understand that this park is in a place that gets a full winter, it’s a shame that the decorations and upkeep aren’t kept up better in winter. The footpaths were also quite slick in places and we saw a good number of people slip.
Walt Disney Studios is just a short walk outside of Disneyland (again, similar to California).
My absolute favorite Disney ride is Tower of Terror and I’m thrilled that Paris still has it (let’s just not talk about California!).
Madeline had ridden it when we were in Anaheim two years ago and decided to give it another go.
It’s not an exact replica of what was in California Adventure, but it does the trick.
No, you don’t need to know French to visit Disneyland Paris, but a few basic phrases can help. Most cast members will say or ask something in French first, so if they’re looking for a party of two, you can jump right on that. Also, it’s just polite to be able to say thank you in the country you’re in.
A PhotoPass is an option, but I honestly don’t think it’s necessary unless you like buying a ride photo every time you go on. We didn’t see a single photographer walking around, not even with the (very) few characters that were out. This might have been a fluke, but it’s worth noting. We obviously bought a few ride photos, but if you buy more than one on the same day, you can show your receipt from the first purchase and get a discount on a photo from other rides.
We chose Bistro Chez Remy for our “fancy” meal. Reservations are needed and it’s one of the pricier restaurants. It’s located right next to the ride and you can see people getting out of the cars if you’re on the far end of the restaurant. The theming is a lot of fun and you feel like you’ve shrunken down to the size of a rat.
We ordered off a somewhat set menu. We all got a starter, main (all mains include ratatouille) and dessert. I’m going to be a bit unpopular here, but again, I was disappointed with the food. The restaurant itself was cold, the meals were barely warm, and it was super expensive for what it was.
We took a day trip into Paris from Disneyland, but I would recommend staying in Paris and making a day trip out of Disneyland Paris instead. At most, you only need two days to get everything out of the parks. With a train station right at the park, it’s an easy 45 minute trip from the city.
If you need to be reminded again, it’s *cold* in Paris in February.
A part of me wants to say to not go to Disneyland Paris in February, but that’s not totally fair. You need to be prepared for the cold (and while we thought we were, we were pretty miserable at times). It is quite likely to be pretty grey and wet. If you are there over UK school holidays, you need to be prepared for long waits. I struggled with the food because I wanted it to be warmer and just better. The food just doesn’t compare to Florida or California. I am looking forward to visiting in warmer weather when the flowers are out and it’s prettier. And while the cold really got to us at times, we did have fun and it was a holiday to remember.