Disneyland Paris is our go-to Disney-related theme park. There is something about Disney that is just exciting and childlike. It’s not every day we go to Disneyland Paris, and we have a great deal of planning involved; travelling with a disabled child means that every detail has to be premeditated, from how we get there to where we leave to what time. We also must consider any assistance, transfers, and what would happen if we are delayed. I thought we would share our experience as part of a Disneyland Paris Trip Report.
We got up at 5.45 am and were in the car and outside Ashford International Station before 6.30 am. We muddled through passport control, bag scanning and then the French border control (I think it was, anyway).
Our train was due to depart Ashford at 7.25 am; we had one large suitcase, one medium suitcase, a small hand luggage case, and a wheelchair. We were travelling with Eurostar, but couldn’t get through the phone line to book special assistance, so we muddled through. Thankfully this lovely gentleman helped us onto the train with the wheelchair, as there was no staff anywhere!
Now, I never understood why Eurostar allocated seats, as a large group of girls sat in the places we’d chosen at a table, so we moved to the back of the carriage. Had it been full, I would have kindly asked them to move, but just a slight minor moan (I’m English).
We saved £450 by changing trains at Lille Europe. The France side is always game for a laugh, with people boarding trains before allowing leaving passengers and moving luggage! Arriving in Lille, Europe was easy; I even found Costa Coffee! Since our last trip, you now have to walk the 10 minutes to the Lille Flanders station (You walk passed Primark), and although the French Police mean serious business with their machine guns, you get used to it, and they are there to protect us.
The second train was 10.25 am (French time) and was just over an hour to Marne-la-Vallee / Chessy Station with a quick stop at the airport. This was very interesting with no place to store luggage and parents just standing in aisles! Once at Marne-la-Vallee, it was quite a stampede for bags, with no one getting priority! People were pushing on, allowing no one to get off! Someone had moved our son’s wheelchair, so there was a bit of a dash to find that! One English lady told a group of girls to stop pushing, and rightly so. She was trying to collect her luggage, and people blocked the exit.
Disney Express Luggage Service
If you get the direct train to Disneyland Paris, you collect your tickets on the train; with the indirect train, you go upstairs on arrival to the Disney Express Luggage area, check in your luggage, and they hand you your park tickets. I paid £60 later to add this, and it was an asset, as you can’t check in until 3 pm, and it was 11.30 am.
You arrive at your hotel later, check-in, and collect your luggage. It is worth the money! On check out, you take your luggage to the luggage area of your hotel, check it in and go off and spend your day in the parks. Concerning checkout, it’s all with a room key. But you need the key to access the park, so don’t post your keys in the box! I saw a few confused travellers post their room keys back, and I just tapped the chest, and off we went for the rest of our last day!
If you’d like more details on the Disney Express Luggage Service and how to book, please check out Disney Express Luggage Service via the Disneyland Paris Website.
New Disneyland Paris Passes
We last visited four years ago, so we were pleasantly surprised when we had a plastic card with our park passes, hotel room key and half-board allocations. It’s pretty cute and not magic bands, but better than paper passes and carrying tokens.
The top left is your meal plan allocation. We were half board standard, the middle was hotel breakfast, and the right was your park tickets.
The only issue we had was when I originally booked our trip, our daughter was going to be 11 during travel, we, unfortunately, had to move it, and she turned 12, meaning she was classed as an adult. However the tickets stated three adults and two children; however, we only had the meal allocation for three adults and one child. Every restaurant classed her as a child, so by the end of the trip, we only had ‘adult’ meals left. It wasn’t a big issue but a little annoying.
The Green Access Pass
For those of you who have been to theme parks in the UK, it works similarly to the Chessington World of Adventures access pass (or how it used to be). Depending on the ride, you go via the exit, fast pass or special entrance. You get a green card if you have a permanent disability requiring that you struggle to queue or need special access to lifts.
You can collect these either at the Donald Desk or City Hall. Go to the Donald Desk! There was no queue, and we walked straight up; City Hall had a 30-minute queue! I took all the evidence mentioned on their website, and she barely looked at it! Be aware, though, Thomas can walk; he uses the wheelchair because he gets tired and struggles with queues. There are certain rides; they won’t let you ride! We were declined ‘Peter Pan’ because he was a wheelchair user as their escape route is a ladder. We explained that he could do it alone, but she wanted us to go back to Donald’s Desk and get the card changed. We decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. For full disclosure, he has been on it during a previous visit.
Beware of Buzz Lightyear
For most rides, we used the exit and were seated within 10 minutes, and the staff were terrific and very accommodating. However, be wary of The Buzz Lightyear Ride; it has a disabled entrance. We waited for 40 minutes! The main queue was 50 minutes! It didn’t seem very fair, and they didn’t seem to prioritise autism or people who struggled to queue. We got in the queue the second afternoon, and he said it was likely to be an hour’s wait, so we didn’t even bother! That was the only ride that was slightly frustrating. I don’t expect to walk directly onto a ride, but 40 minutes to an hour is hard work with a child who doesn’t like crowds or queuing.
Something I never realised was the ‘food’ queue. It’s a little awkward when you get walked straight to the front of the line at a restaurant or counter service restaurant. When we met Jessie, one of the staff members told us to wave our Green card like mad shops, fast food, restaurants, character meets, rides, and parades! I’d never had that service in England!
Lunch – Toad Hall
During our last visit, Toad Hall had been closed for refurbishment, so we were delighted when it was open this time. They’d closed the indoor seating area, so the theming was lost, but I’ve heard it’s pretty amazing.
On arrival, we were escorted to the front of the queue (the looks, people, the looks) and enjoyed our average fish and chips. It wasn’t something I would rave about, and like most, counter service cost €54 (£48), and that was with my son and husband sharing a large. Seating was limited, with large families surrounding small tables with eight chairs. I didn’t think it deserved a full review, as it was average. It was great to try it; it isn’t somewhere we’d probably try again.
Afternoon & Dinner at Hunters Grill
It was busy! I will not lie; I felt quietly overwhelmed by the people, queues and heat. Neither less, we ventured towards the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast; the queue was 50 minutes, and the next fast pass was 9.30 pm (yes, I’m not kidding). We queued in the disability line for 40 minutes, and it was getting longer behind us. Neither less, we got there and had a ‘blast’ (hahaha).
We caught the end of the Jungle Book Jive Parade (which was amazing) before heading to check in at The Hotel Cheyenne. I am doing a separate hotel review, so watch this space.
After the incredibly long check-in, we collected our luggage and found out we were on the first floor with no lift, but it was nicely themed (we had requested a downstairs room).
A Quick Refresh Before Returning to the Park
After a quick refresh and changing clothes, we returned to the park; it was not quieter. If anything, it was busier. We had dinner booked at The Hunters Grill at Sequoia Lodge Hotel; it’s a buffet, and having the standard plan, we paid the difference, but it was still €50. I checked the receipt, and it said €156 if we had not had the dining plan. I was blown away. It was somewhere I’d wanted to eat for years. It was beautifully themed and had excellent service. The drinks are, however, €5.10 for a tumbler-size soft drink, and they are not free in this hotel!
We stayed in Disneyland Park and went on the carousel and Buzz for the second time. We walked around a little, taking in where a few things were and discussing the following day. I had planned a little for character meets and lunch, but nothing too restricted.
We had a fantastic time during our first day at Disneyland Paris! We spent the day enjoying all of Disney’s attractions, from its rides to its eateries. After a fun-filled day, we decided to take a leisurely stroll back to our hotel. The 15-minute walk along the lake, through Disney Village and into the peaceful woods was one of the highlights of our trip and is highly recommended in the evening.
That’s the end of travel day/day 1. As with most travel days, we didn’t stop from 6 am until 10 pm and walked 10 miles! Thank you for reading our Disneyland Paris Trip Report: Day 1.