How to do Disneyland Paris with toddler-aged kids
By Helen Wright
As soon as my two children started walking and talking, I began planning our future Disney trips. I couldn’t wait for them to experience all the magic and joy that I did as a child and be able to share that excitement with them. If you have seen my previous posts, you’ll know that I think going to Disneyland Paris with toddler-aged kids is the perfect time to go. No age group is more enchanted by the Disney magic than toddlers and pre-schoolers. Plus, with no ‘term time’ school restrictions to worry about, you can snap up some great deals year-round.
I took three-year-old Isobel and six-year-old Finn for the first time this year and I was so impressed with how much there is to do for toddlers at Disneyland Paris. At age 3, Isobel was able to experience 90% of the attractions as well as the parades, shows, Character interactions and themed-dining and hotels. Even though Disney is obviously family-friendly, I wasn’t expecting her to be able to do so much of what’s on offer. She even got to ride her first ever rollercoaster! We had the best time and both kids loved it.
Below, I have put together some helpful tips and ideas that you can use to plan a dream trip to Disneyland Paris with younger children.
Cover image: Helen Wright. This page contains affiliate links.
How to do Disneyland Paris with toddler and pre-school-aged kids:
Disney with toddlers? Plan your trip in advance
As all parents and carers know, the key to a successful day out with kids is all in the planning and a holiday with toddlers at Disneyland Paris is no different. Planning key elements in advance means that once you get there, the whole family can just relax and have fun.
It may seem like a lot to think about when you first start planning, but Disneyland Paris is actually a really straightforward and easy holiday for young families. From colourful parades with classic Disney songs to keep everyone entertained, hugs from Mickey Mouse, brilliant attractions themed around Disney films and fun, kid-friendly hotels, everything has already been thought of. All you need to do is get there.
I recommend booking your Disneyland Paris trip as a package with attractiontickets.com. Using a trusted, UK-based company means you known exactly what you’re booking and they have excellent customer service if you do need extra help or advice. Booking a package with attractiontickets.com also comes with extra perks, such as 3-months of Disney+ for free and 10 photographic prints from your trip. They currently have a brilliant deal where you can also recieve up to €75 spending money with your booking.
You can book a ticket + hotel package with attractiontickets.com or go for a full package, which includes travel from London by Eurostar, a stay at a Disneyland Paris hotel and entry tickets to the Disney Parks. Plus, you can also book a package staying at an off-site hotel (such as the Dream Castle Hotel). These hotels are close to Disneyland Paris, offer a wider choice of family-friendly options and can sometimes be even more affordable.
Plan to stay for two nights as a minimum if you’re heading to Disneyland Paris with toddler or pre-schoolers
Exploring Disneyland Paris with toddler or pre-school-aged children will be a lot more relaxed if you have more time to do everything. Between toilet breaks, naps, constant requests for snacks and the odd tantrum, it takes longer to do everything with toddlers – so plan to spend three days at the parks if you can.
Disneyland Paris has two theme parks; Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Both parks have attractions, shows and restaurants perfect for young children, so you won’t want to miss out. A two night, three day package includes a three-day, two-park dated ticket, two nights in Disney Hotel Cheyenne, where we stayed, and return Eurostar journey from London St Pancras.
Taking an early train from London, we arrived at Disneyland Paris just after lunch, so had all afternoon to start exploring before dinner and an early night.
Not only does this work logistically for travelling with toddlers, it’s also a great way to introduce them to the energy of the Disney Parks without overwhelming them. We didn’t have a plan for the first day. We started in Walt Disney Studios Park and just wanted to explore and soak up the atmosphere. Despite not having a ‘strategy’ for the day, we were able to ride multiple attractions, including Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin, Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The final showing of TOGETHER: a Pixar Musical is a good way to round off the day before dinner at Chez Remy.
Disneyland Paris with toddler or pre-school aged kids? Take the Eurostar
Despite travelling all over the world with my children, there’s no question that taking the train to France is much easier than going by plane. If you can get to London, I recommend taking the Eurostar from St Pancras to Disneyland Paris with toddler-aged children. Not only is the transition through the station easy with children and a buggy, there are no rules about liquids or baggage restrictions. Even better, children under the age of four go free on Eurostar, which is a great money-saver for young families.
The Eurostar no longer goes direct to Disneyland Paris, but we found it really simple to change trains in Lille Europe for an easy connection to Disneyland Paris. The tickets you get with your package include allocated seats for both trains (children travelling for free are required to travel on your lap and won’t be guaranteed a seat). When we arrived in Lille, the platform for the TGV train was well-signposted and there were helpful staff on the station to guide you in the right direction.
Pack snacks or a lunch for the train to keep everyone fed and watered. The train has a bit more space than a budget airline so there was room for the kids to spread out and do their colouring and play the little games I packed for them. They loved looking out of the window and trying to spot Sleeping Beauty Castle from the train.
Stay at a Disney Hotel close to the park
The best thing you can do when visiting Disneyland Paris with toddler or pre-school aged children is to stay at a Disneyland Paris on-site hotel. There are seven themed hotels to choose from, most within walking distance to the theme parks or with a quick bus transfer. The picturesque Disney Davy Crockett Ranch is just a short drive away.
The brand new 5-star Disneyland Hotel reopens in January 2024 after a full refurbishment. This hotel will be very elegant and royal themed, with suites inspired by Beauty and the Beast, Tangled and Frozen.
There is also a Marvel-themed hotel, Disney Hotel New York Art of Marvel and Disney Cheyenne Lodge which celebrates Toy Story. This is the hotel we stayed in and I think it’s perfect for families with younger children and toddlers.
Disney Cheyenne Hotel has a Wild West theme and is designed to look like a frontier-era town. The kids loved the rooms, which had Woody wallpaper and curtains inspired by his iconic outfit. There is a saloon bar, a buffet restaurant and a Starbucks Coffee shop for convenience. Outside, for an extra charge, you can even go for a pony ride around the hotel. There is a bus from Disney Hotel Cheyenne to shuttle guests to the Disney Parks, but it’s an easy walk, too. It took us less than 15 minutes with the kids in tow. The Disney buses are complimentary to and from the Disney Parks to most of the resorts.
Make use of the Extra magic time
The other great perk of staying at a Disneyland Hotel is the Extra Magic Hour dedicated to guests every morning before the park opens. Hotel guests are granted access to the parks an hour before the regular admission gates open and we were surprised at how much we were able to do in that time. For tips on how to maximise the Extra Magic Hour, take a look at our post on what to do with the bonus time but (spoiler) we managed to get some nice, crowd-free pictures in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle and three attractions!
Download the official Disneyland Paris app
Something you should definitely do before your trip is to download the free, official Disneyland Paris App. I think the app is great. It is filled with useful information, live maps, up-to-date wait times for attractions and Character meet-and-greets, plus show and parade schedules. The app can also be used for a range of services such as Disney restaurant reservations, mobile food orders and virtual lines.
To get the best use of the app, link your park tickets and hotel reservations (if staying on-site at Disneyland Paris) for the whole family before you leave home. You can do this with all valid, dated tickets, even if you purchased them from an outside agent such as attractiontickets.com. They are really easy to link up anytime from seven days in advance and then you can use the app as a mini tour guide in your pocket throughout the day.
Plan your day around the shows and parades when at Disneyland Paris with toddler-aged children
If you are coming to Disneyland Paris with toddler or pre-school aged kids, often the attractions are secondary to the entertainment in the parks. They will absolutely love the shows including Together: a Pixar Musical Adventure, Frozen: A Musical Invitation and Mickey and the Magician.
As well as Disney musical and Broadway-style performances, watching a show is a great opportunity to rest little legs and benefit from the air conditioning (in summer) and heating (in winter). Toddlers, especially, can get tired out from all the excitement, so allow them some down time to have a chill and rest while the performers do their thing.
On the train home, we asked Finn and Isobel to name their favourite part of the trip and they both loved the parade. Disney Stars on Parade usually starts around 5pm each day and features elaborate floats, dancers and all your favourite Disney Characters passing by.
Get to the main parade early and find a great spot along the parade route because it’s very popular. We like to watch along Main Street USA while enjoying a hot dog from Casey’s Corner. Use the Disneyland Paris app to book a mobile food order for ten minutes before the parade starts. You can do this well in advance and pick your desired time slot.
Don’t be afraid to have a break or even a nap
Enjoying Disneyland Paris with toddlers and young children can be tiring. There is a tendency to get overexcited – and I don’t just mean the children – so my advice is not to push the family too hard so everyone starts getting grumpy.
One of the reasons I recommend staying at a Disney Hotel with toddlers is because the hotels are so close to the theme parks that you can easily go back to the hotel to rest, give little ones a nap or just to have some down time. This can make all the difference during a busy few days with pre-schoolers. Rather than missing out, it can actually mean you better enjoy the time you do spend in the parks as a family.
One of my biggest tips for travelling with kids, in general, is to respect their body clocks and schedule. To conquer time differences and tiredness from traveling or excitement, you may need to eat at unconventional times or schedule in extra meals or snack times, as well as naps, to keep energy levels up.
Book a sit-down restaurant
Disney dining is a big deal at Disney Parks around the world and Disneyland Paris is no different. When you are visiting Disney Parks with toddlers or pre-schoolers, booking a table at a sit-down restaurant is another way to factor in some down time and a chance to eat a proper meal.
Some of Disneyland Paris’ most popular restaurants book up months in advance, so to secure a table for your family, you need to be organised. Restaurants at Disneyland Paris can be booked 60 days in advance via the Disneyland Paris App, online at disneylandparis.com or over the phone. I found the app the easiest and most efficient way to make Disney restaurant reservations.
For all the places we ate during our recent trip, check out this video, but our favourite restaurant as a family was the PYM Kitchen at Marvel Avengers Campus. This is a buffet with a fun theme and I was really impressed with the food.
For a special treat, splash out on Character Dining
For something extra special when at Disneyland Paris with a toddler or younger children, book a character dining experience. This is a sit-down restaurant experience where you can meet Characters while you eat. There is a choice of different restaurants that offer character dining at Disneyland Paris, including Plaza Gardens with Winnie the Pooh and friends and Auberge de Cendrillon, which is the Princess dining restaurant.
Character dining is not the most budget-friendly way to eat at the parks, but Isobel loved the Princess dining and got to meet Cinderella, Rapunzel and Ariel at Auberge de Cendrillon, so she was thrilled! Booking this experience meant if you don’t have time to visit the Princess Pavilion, you’ll be guarenteed to meet the Disney Princesses.
If you want to book a Character dining restaurant, it’s even more important to be organised and make the reservation 60 days in advance.
Plan to meet your favourite Disney characters
Meeting my favourite Disney Characters as a kid is such a core memory and my children are just as enchanted. Disneyland Paris has so many locations at both parks to meet Characters ranging from Mary Poppins, Lilo and Stich, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Chip and Dale, Black Panther and Woody.
This post has some information on how to meet Characters at Disneyland Paris to give you an idea on who you can meet but once at the park, the Disneyland Paris app is the best resource for finding the location of Characters in the park and the times they will be meeting and greeting guests.
There are some locations that have a Character meet and greet throughout the day. These include the Meet Mickey Mouse Theater, the Princess Pavilion and the Hero Training Center at Marvel Avengers Campus. These locations usually always have a standby line, ranging from 25 minutes to 120 minutes, so if you want a Character interaction for your toddler, be mindful that you may have to wait.
The new Marvel Avengers Campus offers a different way to meet Characters, requiring guests to join a virtual queue on the Disneyland Paris app. Once you are inside the park gates at Walt Disney Studios Park, you will be able to join the virtual line for the Hero Training Center. To do this, everyone in your party needs to have their dated ticket linked in the app beforehand. You are then given the choice to meet Spider-man or a surprise Marvel Character. Once you have chosen, your party will be given a time slot to return to the Hero Training Centre.
I think this is a great idea, especially if you are coming to Disneyland Paris with toddler or pre-school aged children, because you don’t have to wait in a long line and can spend the time doing something fun with them instead (such as riding the Spider-Man W.E.B Adventure).
TOP TIP: You can only meet one Character at the Hero Training Centre each day. This means, if you select the virtual line for Spider-man, you wont be able to also meet a Marvel character on the same day. If you plan on visiting Walt Disney Studios Park on more than one date during your trip, remember to join the virtual queue again when you return to the park for your toddler to meet another Marvel Character during your trip.
What is the BEST DISNEY PARK FOR TODDLERS?
If you are heading to Disneyland Paris with toddler-aged children, they will love every aspect of the adventure from the Disney-themed hotels – mine were thrilled with the Toy Story theme – to Marvel Avengers Campus and the magical Disneyland Park with its parades, majestic Sleeping Beauty Castle and classic attractions.
It’s very difficult to choose the Disneyland Paris park that is best for toddlers because both offer so much for younger guests. If you do only have time for one Disneyland Paris park, I would lean toward Disneyland Park because of the parade and the Nighttime Spectacular, Disney Dreams. Disneyland Park also has the Princess Pavilion, Meet Mickey Mouse and the classic Disney attractions like it’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight. If you are visiting Disneyland Paris with toddlers, you can’t miss those!
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