17 Clever Disneyland Paris Tips For First-Timers (Number 11 Will Surprise You!)

I’m a crier. I admit it. When I first saw that pale-pink Victorian hotel towering over the park entrance, I got a lump in my throat. This is it, I thought. We’re in Disneyland Paris. So be warned. Glimpsing the castle for the first time casts a spell that will last a lifetime! Here are my best Disneyland Paris tips for first-timers, including several that might surprise you.  

In this First-timer’s Guide to Disneyland Paris, we will cover:

  • How much planning you really need to do + what to book before you go
  • Language barriers + what the cast members are like
  • 15 attractions unique to Disneyland Paris
  • Merchandise, character meets and (lack of) queuing
  • The best snacks!
    … and even more top tips for Disneyland Paris
One of the Disneyland Paris Tips for First-Timers is to take photos of these fountains which spray merrily to the side of the pink and blue Sleeping Beauty castle

*Crepes and Castles is supported by lovely readers like you. Some links are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission that helps this free website at no cost to you. Learn more

TIP #1: Disneyland Paris is More Like ‘Plan a Little Bit, Then Wing It’

Are you used to military-style planning for your Walt Disney World Florida holiday? Making extensive park plans, losing out on restaurants 6 months before your trip, and watching Genie+ tutorials like you’re back in school again?

You won’t be doing that for Disneyland Paris.

3 Surprising Things First-Timers Learn Are Different in Disneyland Paris

Genie+ and FastPass

Like Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California, Disneyland Paris replaced their free paper FastPass system with paid options.

In Disneyland Paris, you can buy a Premier Pass One for an individual ride OR a Premier Access Ultimate which allows you into the fast lane for almost all the rides.

Premier Access Ultimate

However, unlike Genie+, it is uncommon for Disney park guests to buy a Premier Access Ultimate. It can cost around £130 per person, per day, which makes it almost prohibitively expensive. On the plus side, you can use your Premier Ultimate Pass to ride the 17 most popular attractions anytime you want, in any order (but only once per day). In comparison, Genie+ is more complicated and confusing with available time slots which can sell out.

Premier Access One

Many guests choose to buy the less expensive Premier Pass One. This allows you to ride an individual ride, one time. Priced £8-13, it is similar to the Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World.

📌 Buy Premier Access here
📌 Learn more about Premier Access (and is it worth it??)

Mickey and Minnie Mouse are dressed in festive Mexican outfits - two Halloween characters at Disneyland Paris
Minnie and Mickey in their Halloween outfits. Find out the 10 Places You Can Find Characters in Disneyland Paris

Booking Character Meets

Marvel characters such as Spider-Man in Walt Disney Studios operate with a virtual queue. Log in to the Disneyland Paris app once you are inside Walt Disney Studios and it will be indicated what time you can try for the next superhero meet.

But, for everyone else, you just need to queue up! Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses are permanent meet-and-greet attractions in designated buildings. Other characters like Stitch, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, and Western Minnie Mouse and Friends are mainly dotted around Disneyland Park.

• Check the Disneyland Paris App for character location and wait times, and turn up about 30 minutes before.
• If you don’t want to wait in a queue to meet characters, consider booking a meal at Plaza Gardens or Cendrillon de Auberge – Cinderella’s Inn.
• Check out these handy tips on Meeting Disney Characters in Disneyland Paris

Making Restaurant Reservations

Remember when we had to reserve tables up to 180 days before our Florida trips? Disneyland Paris works a bit differently.

If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you can book a restaurant up to 12 months in advance using the Disneyland Paris app. Staying offsite means you can book a table 60 days in advance.

Are all the tables sold out? Try asking at your preferred restaurant for a booking on the day. They often have cancellations. I also recommend using DLP Tables to get Disneyland Paris dining alerts.

In general, for Disneyland Paris, you will not be tied to your computer making loads of reservations and detailed plans before your trip.

It is much smaller than Walt Disney World and easier to get around. Better yet, you won’t be frantically checking your phone all day long to find your next activity. In France, you can live in the moment – let your feet take you to whatever you fancy next!

One the tips for Disneyland Paris first-timers is to experience this attraction: Star Wars Hyper Space Mountain in all its steampunk glory
Star Wars: Hyperspace Mountain is a must-do for roller coaster enthusiasts. It is unique to Disneyland Paris and a fan-favourite.

TIP #2: You Won’t Need a 2-Week Itinerary

Along the same lines as not having to extensively plan restaurants, rides and character meets before your trip, you won’t need a 2-week park itinerary when you’re here. You can experience all the magic of the Disneyland Paris parks in 2-3 days. Or you can have an exciting taster in just one day.

There is so much to compare and contrast between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris. But one of the main advantages for first-timers going to Disneyland Paris is that it’s a much smaller investment of time and money.

📒 PLANNING TIP For itinerary inspiration, check out my Touring Guides of Disneyland Paris. I also have printable park itineraries in my Disneyland Paris Ultimate Bundle.

Save time with this 30-page Disneyland Paris Planner Bundle. It has attraction checklists, packing lists, park itineraries, outfit planners and more!
A spade is painting the roses red in Alice's Labyrinth

TIP #3: Of Course They Speak French! But You Don’t Have To

Cast members won’t always be completely fluent in English, but they know enough to tell you where attractions are or where to go if you have a problem.

Language Tips for Disneyland Paris First-Timers

  • The Disneyland Paris app is in English and at your fingertips to guide you around the park
  • All the signage is in English
  • Food menus are printed in English and French
  • The narrative on the attractions is generally understandable. Even if some of the dialogue is French, you can easily follow the visuals
  • The shows and parades have a pleasant mix of French and English. I thoroughly enjoy Elsa singing ‘Let It Go’ in French. Let’s face it, we all know the words to that song!
Orbitron is a rotating rocket ride inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's visionary drawings of the solar system

TIP #4: There Are More Smokers in Europe

One of the things that surprised me as a first-time visitor to Disneyland Paris was the number of smokers. While the park doesn’t allow smoking except in designated areas, some people sneak cheeky cigarettes throughout the park.

Thankfully, I have noticed this problem less over the years, but it’s one to be aware of.

Tweedle Dee (or is it Tweedle Dum?) is lurking near Alice's Tea Cups

TIP #5: Cast Members Are… Different

English and American tourists are sometimes disappointed that cast members are, well, more French?

Perhaps it’s that the French are a bit more cool. You won’t hear the slightly cringey ‘Have a Magical Day, Princess!’ But don’t be put off. The cast members are genuinely passionate about Disney, and I’ve met loads of very friendly people there, too.

If they seem a little abrupt, just remember that English is not their first language and there are cultural differences. In France, they value more genuine interaction, while in America, they value extreme customer service because their jobs depend on it.

✏️ PRO TIP Your smile and even a badly pronounced ‘Bonjour’ will go a long way to connecting with cast members and making your first-time experience of the parks even more wonderful.  

?! FAQ What if I Have a Complaint?

With all that said, Disney is not 100% perfect all of the time. If you are unhappy with the way you were treated by a cast member, if a restaurant falls below your expectations, or if more than one or two rides break down during your day, you have a right to be disappointed.

In the first instance, when things go wrong, speak to the nearest cast member. For example, if your character meal does not go as well as you would expect, then ask to speak to a manager or go to the front desk. If multiple rides break down, causing you to miss out on a big portion of your park day, go to City Hall and let them know. If your hotel room is not as tidy as it should be or if anything goes missing, be sure to speak to the hotel front desk right away.

If things are still not put right or you are not offered a suitable replacement or a token of appropriate compensation, then the next thing to do is to make a formal complaint. Send an email to dlp.guest.communication@disneylandparis.com. In some cases, they can offer things like park tickets to use for a future visit. Disney want you to come back, and you deserve to be treated fairly.

TIP #6: Disneyland Paris Isn’t in Paris

Say what? That’s right. Disneyland is not in Paris. It is located just outside the city centre. The good news is, if you arrive by Eurostar or RER (local) train to Marne-la-Vallee/Chessy station, Disneyland Paris is just a few steps outside!

🚗➡️ If you are planning a last-minute trip to Disneyland Paris by car, check out my Tips for Using the Eurotunnel.

🚄➡️ Travelling by Eurostar for the first time? Check out these best Tips on taking the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris.

Minnie sits atop a stunningly lit parade float in candy coloured pinks and greens; a must-do in the Disneyland Paris Christmas Guide 2023
Minnie’s brightly lit float looks spectacular at night. The parade is a definite Disneyland Paris Christmas must-do!

TIP #7: France Is Romantic. Disneyland Paris Is No Different

Disneyland in Paris has style, beauty and an enchanting story to discover in every land.

Of course, you might have visited the France Pavilion in Epcot, but it is not the same as actually being in Europe. Plus! You can drink champagne by the castle! (And it’s delicious.)

5 Best Attractions Unique to Disneyland Paris

  • Hyperspace Mountain is a Star Wars-themed high-speed roller coaster with inversions.
  • Phantom Manor has a completely different story to the Haunted Mansion and includes a haunted Frontierland section. Don’t miss the graveyard at the back.
  • Big Thunder Mountain has a track that tunnels under the water to the island across. It’s arguably the best version of this ride in the world, and you must try it in the day and night.
  • Crush’s Coaster in Walt Disney Studios is a thrilling, high-speed unique spin on Finding Nemo.
  • The show everyone raves about: Mickey and the Magician. Exclusively in Walt Disney Studios, this is an enchanting tale of Mickey who calls on some familiar friends to harness the power of magic.

📌 Check out all the Unmissable Attractions Disneyland Paris Has (that other Disney parks don’t).

A pirate ship is mirrored in a picturesque lake, Skull Rock is situated behind it under an open blue sky. This is the best view for starting your First-timers guide to Adventureland Disneyland Paris
FUN FACT Disneyland Paris has the biggest and most picturesque Adventureland. Check out this Adventureland Itinerary with highlights and easter eggs

TIP #8: Your Feet Will Fall Off

Do not be deceived when I tell you that Disneyland Paris is much smaller than Walt Disney World. There is STILL a lot of walking to do. You will probably do 20,000 steps in a day.

But not between the parks! Walt Disney Studios sits right next to Disneyland Park. This is a wonderful advantage that Disneyland Paris has over Disney World in Florida.

🤓 GOOD TO KNOW You will need a park hopper ticket to visit both parks on the same day.

Crush's Coaster is part of the plan Walt Disney Studios; here riders board the turtle shaped coaster lit up in magnificent magentas
Crush’s Coaster is a high-speed thrilling attraction unique to Walt Disney Studios in Paris

TIP #9: One of the Parks Is Better Than the Other

I’m looking at you Walt Disney Studios. (I still love you, though!) A lot of exciting things are on the horizon for Walt Disney Studios, including a spectacular Frozen Land, Tangled attraction and Alice in Wonderland show (coming in 2025).

But for now, dipping in and out of Walt Disney Studios or spending no more than ¾ of a day here is plenty. Budget the rest of your time for Disneyland Park as there is much more to do there.

And while it might not take an entire day, Walt Disney Studios is full of exceptional shows and a few must-do attractions. To make the most of your time, check out my perfect 1-day plan for Walt Disney Studios.

✏️ PRO TIP Starting your day at Walt Disney Studios is smart because it closes earlier than the main park.

Fantasia's ballerina hippo topiary dances at the entrance to Disneyland Paris
The Disneyland Hotel was completely refurbished and reopened in January 2024

TIP #10: The On-Site Hotels Are Really On-Site

First-timers might be surprised that you do not need a car to get from your hotel to the parks.

The Disney hotels are only about a 10-minute walk. In fact, one of the hotels sits above the entrance to the main park! The Disneyland Hotel was completely refurbished and reopened in 2024 with majestic rooms themed around the Princesses (and Queen!) in Cinderella, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen.

As you would expect for such convenience, the Disneyland Paris hotels are on the pricey side.

✏️ PRO TIP One of the best Disneyland Paris tips for first-timers is that several off-site hotels are also walkable or within one stop on the RER (commuter rail train). Check out Residhome Val d’Europe for mini-suites on a budget.

➡️ I cover potential savings for booking an off-site hotel in my guide to estimating your Budget for Disneyland Paris.

➡️ And I compare the two cheapest Disneyland Paris hotels in Cheyenne vs Santa Fe – which is better?.

Princess Ariel in a blue dress meets guests with Prince Eric
Ariel and Prince Eric make a rare appearance in the park for special events and holidays (For example, this one was taken on Valentine’s Day)

TIP #11: You Can’t Meet More Than One Royal at a Time

Something that really surprises first-time visitors to Disneyland Paris is that you can only meet one princess in the Princess Pavilion (unless you join the queue again). The wait at Disneyland Paris is longer than you would expect, too, averaging about 2 hours.

To the disappointment of many fans, you cannot choose who you will meet in the Princess Pavilion – it’s random whether you are seen by Princess Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora or Belle.

On the plus side, the inside part of the queue is beautifully done with interesting displays for all the princesses, and it has interactive elements that are fun to play with.

Not keen on waiting that long to meet only one Princess? Consider making a reservation at Auberge de Cendrillon, where you will meet Cinderella, her two mice friends and two other Disney Princesses.

A delicious crepe on a plate and a small espresso cup

TIP #12: Europeans Aren’t Big on Snacking

At least, not in the American sense. You won’t find cupcakes piled high with icing, obscenely-sized turkey legs, or refreshment carts every 50 feet.

But don’t get me wrong. Disneyland Paris still has plenty of wonderful treats.

My Favourite (and Unique) Snacks at Disneyland Paris

  • The Mickey waffles drizzled in chocolate at Cool Post, Adventureland.
  • Up, Simba and Minnie Mouse-themed Magnums in Walt Disney Studios (pictured below)
  • Nutella crepes (obviously, given the name of my blog!). Find them in a food truck between Main Street and Discoveryland
  • Enormous Alice in Wonderland-themed ice creams from March Hare in Fantasyland
  • Champagne by the glass in front of the castle – find it at the kiosk at the end of Main Street
  • Minnie or Mickey Cake bars from Boardwalk Candy Palace on Main Street
  • For savoury lovers, the Gourmand food carts by Ratatouille are unmissable (I love the goat cheese honey crepes paired with a glass of wine). Also check out the mini food festival area near the Tower of Terror, usually in the summertime.
  • Got kids? The pic and mix sweets are pricey but always a big hit with my boys. You can find a large selection at Boardwalk Candy Palace in Disneyland Park or Chez Marianne Souvenirs of Paris near Ratatouille in Walt Disney Studios.
Magnum Creations inspired by the movie Up, Simba from Lion King, and Minnie Mouse. 📸 Credit: Disney
A selection of soft toys in a hotel gift shop including Stitch and Buzz Lightyear

TIP #13: The Selection of Merchandise Leaves Much To Be Desired

I am constantly surprised that Disney’s European shops don’t have the same diversity as their global counterparts.

However, if you keep your eyes peeled, there are still some unique and memorable souvenirs to be had. Just don’t expect to return home with another suitcase full of trinkets (that might be a good thing for some people 🙋🏼‍♀️).

6 Best Tips for the Most Exclusive Disneyland Paris Souvenirs

  • There is a small selection of exclusive Disneyland Paris Pandora charms (try Hollywood Jewel Box in Walt Disney Studios)
  • Dotted throughout the two parks, you’ll find a few variations of the classic Disney Spirit Jersey printed with Disneyland Paris on the back.
  • Food carts typically have special souvenir drink cups. Some carts, like March Hare Refreshments, will offer a popcorn bucket. Unique to Disneyland Paris is a pretty Cinderella carriage popcorn bucket.
  • Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a modest selection of Disneyland Paris fridge magnets, pins, pens and t-shirts. But the best place to find stationary and rare books is in The Storybook Store (to the left before you get to Main Street in Disneyland Park). They even have a poster-sized vintage Disneyland Paris map.
  • By far my favourite souvenir is in Merlin l’Enchanteur, inside the castle. Here you can get a custom wand made by a skilled glass-maker.
  • Two restaurants, Auberge de Cendrillon and Bistrot Chez Rémy offer limited edition spoons you can purchase with your meal.
  • If you have time for Disney Village, check out The Disney Gallery’s Art on Demand where you can create a unique Disney print and even have it shipped home.

This incredible Disneyland Paris Planner includes a Dining Planner, Attractions Checklists, Packing Lists, and more. Have it at your fingertips to save time and start planning today!

Green Men from Toy Story in the Disneyland Paris afternoon parade, taking place in front of the castle

TIP #14: Not Everyone Is on Board With British-Style Queuing

There’s always that one annoying guest who squeezes nine people in front of you (after you’ve been waiting an hour in line). But for the most part, ride queues at Disneyland Paris are pretty civilised.

It descends into mayhem at the fireworks and when boarding hotel shuttles at the end of the night. I’ve seen grown men push small children out of the way. I have been shoved quite hard by a woman on a mission on Main Street. And I’ve even been rammed by a buggy from behind (and not by accident).

A top Disneyland Paris tip for first-timers is to try to leave the park before the fireworks (if you’re not planning on seeing them). Or hang back for at least 15 minutes afterwards. Take the arcade exits and avoid Main Street. Shops will stay open for about an hour after closing, so you don’t need to rush out.

At the parade, people may try to shove in if you are at the front. The best you can do is look after your children and either hold your ground or just let them get on with it. As unsettling as it is, try not to let a stranger’s bad manners spoil your Disney experience.

Nachos with cheese and vegan chili, served on eco-friendly dishes, something that may surprise first time visitors to Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris has new eco-friendly re-useable cups, cutlery and serving dishes.

TIP #15: Look Out Where You Put Your Rubbish!

Disneyland Paris is striving to be greener. In France, disposable plates and cutlery are being phased out.

Expect to find eco-friendly washable bamboo bowls, forks, spoons, knives and cups. Cold drinks don’t have lids, and the straws are made of paper.

When you are finished, you will see separate bins for normal waste and reusable items.

Under a blue sky, Walt's Disneyland Paris Restaurant sits proudly with it's cream walls and green canopied windows on Main Street USA

TIP #16: Restaurants Close Earlier Than You’d Expect

I’ll never forget visiting in February and wanting dinner for our hungry family at 6 pm. It was a mission impossible! All the quick service restaurants bar Colonel Hathi’s Pizza in Adventureland were closed.

If this happens to you, try Casey’s Corner on Main Street for hotdogs (they have vegan and meat options). Or consider getting a meal in Disney Village or at the Disneyland Paris hotels.

I have a full guide to Disneyland Paris Dining including the best hacks for their table reservation system.

A hand holds up a Disneyland Paris paper map at the entrance to the park

TIP #17: The Paper Maps Are Hidden

For quite a long time, Disneyland Paris stopped printing paper maps.

Fortunately, printed maps are back – but they are difficult to find, unless you know how!

After you come through the entrance, go to the Stroller and Wheelchair Rental shop on the right. If you ask there, they will give you a paper Disneyland Paris map in your preferred language. Be prepared: these maps are not as nice as the ones in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. They are smaller, simpler and a bit harder to use in my opinion.

If you want a more beautiful map to take home, there is a wall-sized retro paper map available to purchase from The Storybook Store in the main park. Ask at the till if you don’t see it.

The author, a blonde woman in pink mouse ears, is blowing a kiss to Pluto

💫 Bonus Disneyland Paris Tip for First-Timers: If You Do Nothing Else, Do This

Lastly, my best tip for Disneyland Paris first-timers is to try not to stress.

Even the experts have trips that go a bit haywire, kids that go rogue, and the thing you wanted more than anything else is sold out. It is important to appreciate Disneyland Paris as a new experience and a temporary time in your life.

Embrace the cultural differences, let your kids eat ice cream for dinner, really listen to the music, and cheer for your favourite characters in the parade. Remember what it was like to be a kid again.

That is the best magic of all. 

If You Enjoyed Disneyland Paris Tips for First-timers, You Will Love These, Too

🩷 Don’t be overwhelmed by making your Disneyland Paris Itinerary. Here’s your FREE Custom Printable Itinerary

💛 Start making a list. This is EXACTLY what to take for Your Kid’s First Time to Disneyland Paris

🧡 Save money on absolutely everything. This is how to do Disneyland Paris On a Budget 

❤️ Is there anything you’ve forgotten to do? Check with this full guide to Planning Disneyland Paris (with FREE checklist)

📌 PIN Disneyland Paris Tips for First-Timers

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  1. I would like to thank you for the amazing content that I found in here.
    I am heading to Paris in September and you rock with ALL the tips!
    Thanks fron Brazil

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