Disneyland Paris

My two cents on Disneyland Paris. I’m sure it’s obvious to everyone what you’re getting into if you decide to go to Disneyland – ridiculously high entrance prices (72CHF adult, 59CHF child 3+, although there are lots of multi-day offers that can reduce it slightly), long lines, bad food, etc. But most of us hope that our children will have a magical experience that makes up for all that. I was determined to spoil my child: he could have the Mickey hat and the Goofy hat, he could have cotton candy and ice cream, he could ride the teacups as many times as he wanted. I was going to make up for all those healthy lunches brought from home and sensible economizing my parents did in my childhood. This was going to be a hedonistic Disney extravaganza. In reality, Disneyland is full of people trying their hardest to have a great time and failing.

if your child hasn’t seen the Lion King,
Beauty & the Beast or other Disney movies,
the parade is not very compelling

My main advice is don’t go unless your child is already familiar with lots of the Disney characters, particularly ones that are associated with the rides or appear in the parade, because that’s what makes it magical. Since the lines are long and the rides are short, most of the fun is just being at the park, soaking in the “magical” atmosphere. If your child loves Cinderella or Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland, then your child will be happy just looking at the scenery. My 3yr old didn’t know any of the characters (besides Winnie the Pooh, more on that later) so he could have cared less that he was riding a Dumbo ride vs. a random elephant ride at any local carnival.

one of these flying elephant rides had no wait and cost €1.80,
the other had a 30 min wait and cost ~16CHF (entrance fee/# of rides),
which do you think was more fun?

The happiest little kids there seemed to be the 5yr girls, in newly-bought Disney princess dresses, running around getting autographs from various Disney characters around the park. Trying to get access to the Disney characters is practically impossible. We finally saw Tigger and he was swarmed with 20+ adults, pushing Disney autograph books in his face. My husband put our son on his shoulders and pushed through the crowd so my son touch Tigger’s ears for 5 seconds before being carried away by the fray.

that was then (me in 1980), this is now

At some point (maybe after I waited 30 mins in line for ice cream, or perhaps after our inedible “American barbeque” lunch – you can’t bring your own food inside the park), it all became ridiculous and we stopped trying. We just kept riding Small World and Casey Jr. train over and over, since these had the smallest lines. Although our 3 yr old had a reasonably fun time, there were only a few rides appropriate to his age (Small World, Teacups, Casey’s train ride, etc) and each ride required a 20-30 min wait. Disneyland is probably more fun for older kids (perhaps 10), who can ride everything, including the big coasters.

3yr olds are just too small for most rides

Despite all this, I suspect we’ll keep going go back, year after year. Disney marketing has programmed me well. If you’ve had more fun than us, please share your tips.

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