How to plan a last minute Disneyland Paris trip for your family (even in half-term)

Of course, we would all like to be super organised and have our holidays planned a year in advance. But what about when life gets busy, plans go awry or you just fancy a last minute trip for Mickey waffles?

A crowd of Disney characters perform a nighttime show in front of the castle lit up in pink and blue

You’ll be glad to know it’s easy to book that last minute Disneyland Paris, even in the half-term holidays.

Backstory: Recently, and for one reason or another, we have been booking our family holidays at the last minute. This is not for the faint-hearted, I assure you!

The obvious advantage is getting a great deal on leftover flights or hotel rooms. On the other hand, you will be taking a risk if you want a particular destination or particular date. The holiday you have been eyeing up can sell out or reach sky-high prices if you linger too long.

This happened to us. We were celebrating my husband’s 40th birthday, and I wanted to surprise him with a February city break in New York. 

I hesitated on the flight while he was requesting time off work. Very swiftly the flight price skyrocketed for the half-term break. 

Time was creeping by, and disappointment was setting in, but I was determined.

Being creative, and thinking differently, we ended up with a fantastic 3-night last-minute trip to Disneyland Paris, departing on the following Thursday.

The kids were delighted, as you can imagine!

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Book your Disneyland Paris last-minute trip in 3 easy steps

Here is how I booked my family a last-minute trip to EuroDisney and saved a lot of money (and you can too!).

The castle at the end of Main Street, a welcome sight when you book a last-minute Disneyland Paris trip

1 – Last minute Disneyland Paris: TRAVELLING OPTIONS AND COSTS

The Eurostar train is our favourite way to get to France. But, as our departure was only days away, the tickets were over £800 for our family. (And as I paid £995 to fly the family direct to Florida’s Walt Disney World, this seemed more than a little expensive!)

We considered flying into Paris, which seemed fairly budget-friendly. However, we would need a taxi to and from a London airport and then a shuttle transfer or taxi to and from the Paris airport to our hotel on arrival, which added to the cost. I also didn’t want to worry about paying more for our luggage. We like to bring snacks with us to save money, and there’s no way I can fit all my mouse ears in a cabin bag!

This left the interesting option of driving and crossing the channel by using the P&O ferry or by Eurotunnel.

P&O Ferries go from Dover to Calais, and on the plus side, they are cheaper than Eurotunnel. You can even use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers. This is slightly complicated in the way that you can only book by telephone. Plus, you can only use the Tesco vouchers for certain types of tickets, and (importantly) they require a 5-day stay. This would not have worked for our 3-night trip.

Eurotunnel goes from Folkstone to Calais. They take Tesco Clubcard vouchers, but we could not use them because you need to arrange your journey 14 days before travelling. 

Child standing next to Bon Voyage sign in the departures lounge of the Eurotunnel on his way to Disneyland Paris. He is waving and dressed in a sweatshirt with a black skull on the front


Our experience with Eurotunnel

We decided Eurotunnel was still best for us. It is only 1 ½ hours from where we live in East London, and while the P&O ferry takes 90 minutes to make the crossing, it takes Eurotunnel only 35 minutes. 

Those precious extra minutes were worth it to us to pay more for because the departure time was early in the morning and late at night.

Four days ahead of our trip, it cost about £190 for the Eurotunnel. Plus an optional £36 for RAC breakdown cover. Our car insurance provides 90 days of European coverage for free. Being this side of Brexit, our EHIC medical cards were still valid, and our family has an annual travel insurance policy. 

As per France driving rules, we ordered an AA-approved EU driving kit from Amazon.

Important Driving Tips: To comply with French law, do not forget to switch off speed camera alerts on your sat nav, and affix the headlamp adaptor stickers from the driving kit once you leave the UK. Keep the high-vis jacket from your EU driving kit in the main part of your car (not the boot).

Another cost to factor in if you are driving is petrol, which will depend on your vehicle. We have a medium-sized car, and it took about a tank and ¾ to go round trip. 

Pro tip: The French toll road will save you an hour each way, and I highly recommend it. The toll costs about £20 each way. You collect a ticket at the beginning of the toll road and then insert it into the machine at the end of it. Payment can be made by cash (Euros) or debit/credit card after inserting your ticket.

Magic Circus (now Grand Magic) view from upper hotel room. Opposite is white hotel building with a section housing the family pool area. Green grass and a garden area is in the foreground.

2 – Last minute Disneyland Paris: BUDGET ACCOMMODATION

Should you stay at an on-site or off-site hotel at Disneyland Paris?

If yours is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, planned at least a few months in advance, I would recommend staying on-site. Disney has a good choice of hotels, from the budget Santa Fe to the blowout Disneyland Hotel (set to reopen in 2024).

Pros and cons of a Disney hotel

Disney hotels offer free shuttles and most are within walking distance of the parks. They allow an extra hour in the early morning to one of the parks. And you can meet characters in the hotel lobby, which might save you time in the parks, too. 

The price tag for these privileges isn’t insignificant, though. Breakfast is no longer included for free at Disneyland Paris hotels, and while there are sometimes offers for full and half-board, they were not available to us at the time we booked.

You can get a discount for on park tickets as a package with a Disney hotel, but this was a budget trip for us, so we priced up a few alternatives and I was surprised by the savings.

My experience booking an off-site hotel

Hotels in neighbouring Val d’Europe usually have the lowest-priced options and are only one stop on the RER from Disney. But we found an even better deal at the closer Vienna Magic Circus hotel (which has now been refurbished and renamed the Grand Magic Hotel). 

We have stayed at this hotel before and knew it to be good quality and nicely themed, with a reliable shuttle, clean pool and decent breakfast. We also appreciate their family rooms have a kids’ bunk bed. 

What the Grand Magic Hotel ‘family room’ looks like now, following its refurbishment

This hotel has a big open space near the bar, with a ball pit area for the little ones and an adjoining restaurant, handy if you are travelling with kids. 

We checked Topcashback for offers then found a deal on Expedia, and this worked out as the cheapest option for us. It was about £296 for 3 nights, including breakfast and free parking at the February half-term, and getting cash back (10% at the time!) is a great bonus.

[Update: Current prices for Grand Magic are around £132/night in February half-term 2023]

Disneyland Paris packing list for beginners, includes driver's checklist, baby items and more
New: 7-piece bundle Disneyland Paris packing list is in my Etsy shop

3 – Last minute Disneyland Paris TICKETS (AND UNEXPECTED SAVINGS!)

Now, this is where things got interesting. I scouted around for the cheapest tickets, beginning with Disney directly.

Disney was running a promotion on 1-day 1-park tickets [Update: currently about £71 each in Feb 2023 half term). So I then compared that price with a variety of other options.

You might also want to check out my detailed breakdown of the cheapest Disneyland Paris tickets to help you decide what’s best for you.

Pro tip: You’ll need to decide how many days you want in the park(s) before pricing up tickets.

We decided from the start on having just 2 days at the two parks. This was mainly to keep in budget, but also because our kids enjoy hotels so much. (Last time, our youngest actually sobbed that he wanted to swim and play air hockey in the hotel instead of going into Disneyland!)

Park hopper tickets cost more than standalone 1-park tickets, but for a 2-day trip I think they’re worth it.

FAQ: Are 2 days in Disneyland Paris enough? 2 days are definitely enough if you plan carefully! Read my step-by-step itinerary for 1 day in Disneyland Paris  and my full guide to 1 day in Walt Disney Studios.

Meeting Mickey is great, but is it as good as a hotel pool???!

Discounted Tickets from Attraction Tickets

I highly recommend checking out the Disneyland Paris deals at Attraction Tickets. Attraction Tickets will offer at least the same discount as Disney, if not more, and they often will have promotions such as a free photo offer.

Consider an Annual Pass

If you are planning on coming back to Disneyland Paris again in the next 12 months, there is another option – invest in an annual pass (check out my latest post on the NEW Disneyland Pass).

An annual pass has it’s own pros and cons. There are different tiers which entitle you to different dates you can visit. One way to save money is to buy just ONE pass and reap benefits for your entire family. An annual pass entitles you to savings on restaurants and merchandise throughout the parks, as well as discounted park tickets for your friends and family.

Which Disneyland Paris annual pass to buy depends on several factors. And be warned, this option only works if you’re not planning a super last minute trip. You’ll need to organise the paperwork by post at least a month in advance.

I go into more detail about tickets and annual pass options in 7 ways to save money and skip the queues at Disneyland Paris.

The final result

In the end, I found the absolute cheapest way to do my last minute Disneyland Paris trip was to use a combination of these two. I already had an Annual Pass for myself, and we used our favourite retailer, Attraction Tickets, to buy tickets for the rest of my family.

You should always check prices for yourself (this budget planner is a great way to keep track of your quotes). But, overall, it was cheaper for me to book my tickets through Attraction Tickets than through Disney directly.

Getting the cheapest Disneyland Paris tickets means you can put away more money for Mickey snacks!

lilac banner reading 'Disneyland Paris budget planner' which is available in my etsy shop
Stay in control of your spending money – get our DLP budget planner in the Etsy shop

Pro tip: Be aware that you can no longer buy tickets at the park in person and you may need a reservation, be sure to check out my post on making park reservations at Disneyland Paris

Last step: Get it booked!

So there you go, 3 steps to booking your last-minute Disneyland Paris holiday: travel, accommodation and tickets.

Let me know in the comments below if this was helpful for you, and let me know if you are counting down to your next trip.

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