June 18, 2024

1-Day Disneyland Paris Itinerary

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This 1-day Disneyland Paris itinerary features step-by-step strategy for maximizing rides plus restaurant recommendations, shows we’d see, and more. Our single day park plan is our perfect day in Disneyland Paris, balancing efficiently doing attractions

This 1-day Disneyland Paris itinerary features step-by-step strategy for maximizing rides plus restaurant recommendations, shows we’d see, and more. Our single day park plan is our perfect day in Disneyland Paris, balancing efficiently doing attractions with opportunities to slow down and enjoy the ‘Disney Details.’ (Updated February 26, 2024.)

Note that this is not a “commando style” touring plan or strategy guide for racing from attraction to attraction to do as many as possible at the expense of everything else. Getting a lot done is important, but this itinerary balances quantity with quality. Efficiency is important, but Disneyland Paris is the most ornate and detailed Disneyland-style park in the world, and it is imperative that you stop and smell the proverbial roses if you really want to really appreciate all this Disney park has to offer.

There are a few assumptions with this guide, such as you visiting on a moderately crowded day, arriving at park opening and staying to close. Touring Disneyland Paris efficiently is really simple because this is one of the few parks where the paid Disney Premier Access line-skipping is not that popular, meaning that standby lines usually move fairly quickly and posted wait times are reasonable as a result. Obviously, there are exceptions to this around holiday peaks and school breaks. We do not recommend purchasing Premier Access unless you’re visiting on a very busy day–standby lines and savvy strategy should be sufficient.

Also note that this Disneyland Paris 1-day plan does not specifically list every attraction. Instead, we make value judgments about the best attractions to form a touring plan that can be accomplished in a single day. If you have more time or want an overview of all rides in the park, read our Disneyland Paris Attraction Ratings & Ride Guide post.

Let’s take a look at how you should approach this ideal day…

Rise and Shine – I am a big proponent of staying on-site for a first-visit to any of the Disney resorts, and Paris is no different. My recommendation here is staying at Sequoia Lodge, but if you have the funds, Disneyland Hotel can’t be beat with its views overlooking the park.

Staying at one of the Disney hotels also entitles you to Extra Magic Hour (EMH), and the ability to experience select attractions for an hour before the park opens to the public. The exact ride roster for EMH changes, but it usually revolves around Fantasyland, Discoveryland, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The easiest approach to EMH is simply knocking out Fantasyland. There’s always going to be enough open there that you can knock out several rides, and the duration of each is relatively short–meaning that you can easily do a half-dozen rides in that hour. Objectively speaking, you’ll save more time at Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain in Discoveryland or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland, though. What we like to do is start in Fantasyland, and race over to Frontierland at the tail-end of Extra Magic Hour to hit that right before rope drop.

Westward Ho! – Start your day by rope dropping Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is the most popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. You could always do this later, but arriving first thing in the morning is the safe bet. From there, it’s not a bad idea to knock out Phantom Manor.

After that, consider looping back into Fantasyland if you weren’t eligible for Extra Magic Hour or if you missed attractions (not everything is open for EMH), or opted to do Discoveryland during EMH.

Fantastical Morning – I think you really can’t go wrong by starting the day in any castle park in Fantasyland, and Disneyland Paris is no exception. Like the rest, a big part of the reason to start here is because there are numerous attractions nearby one another, each of which can develop a moderate wait time–and those waits add up.

If you didn’t do it during Extra Magic Hour, start by doing Peter Pan’s Flight, and then move to the other dark rides. (Note that Casey Jr. and Storybook Land Canal Boats may open later than the rest of the park.) End with a walk through Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, and make sure to head all the way to the top of the Queen’s Castle, which overs excellent views of Fantasyland.

Adventure is Out There! – If you go by the park map, you might think this is a land you can quickly knock out by doing Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. That is not even remotely true. First of all, the Indiana Jones coaster is atrocious. Utterly devoid of theming and short, it’s a waste of time. If you’re going to Disneyland Paris for this, I’m betting you won’t appreciate the painstaking details and beauty of the park.

By contrast, this Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the best Disney attractions in the world. Do not skip that. Most importantly, make sure to spend some time on Adventure Isle, where you can see Skull Rock and explore the Swiss Family Treehouse. Another overlooked gem is Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin, an enchanting little walk-through exhibit.

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DRAGON! – Disneyland Paris is a divisive park, with a love-it-or-hate-it reaction among Disney fans. I have never witnessed this type of response to any other Disney park in the world, and in my very scientific research, I have reached the following conclusion: people who dislike Disneyland Paris did the park without any dragon time.

Thus, make a quick stop to see the dragon under the castle sometime in the morning as a nice mood boost. (If you make additional stops throughout the day, your chances of liking the park will further increase.) If you stop to see the dragon, I guarantee you will feel like this, supercharged and amped for the exploration that awaits. As the jingle goes, ‘the best part of waking up is seeing a F@#$**&# DRAGON!’

Eat at Walt’s Place – I highly recommend Walt’s – An American Restaurant for lunch, if it’s open (try for reservations first thing in the morning–before any attractions, if it is). If it’s not open, a table service alternative that likely will be open is Blue Lagoon Restaurant. I’m not a fan of the cuisine at either restaurant, but both offer amazing ambiance, and are worth a visit.

Counter service alternatives are the light-hearted Toad Hall (a must visit for Mr. Toad fans…when it’s actually open) or Cowboy Cookout BBQ. All of these restaurants make our Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Disneyland Paris, and are some of the best themed Disney theme park restaurants in the world.

Must-See Shows & Entertainment – Disneyland Paris has a world-class entertainment program, with better productions than just about any other Disney them park in the world. Some of this is seasonal, with special offerings for holidays (e.g. Halloween and Christmas) that are all well worth seeing. Right now, for example, there’s “A Million Splashes of Color, a new all-singing, all-dancing, all- colourful daytime show bursting with beloved songs and stories performed by Mickey, Timon, Joy, Mirabel, and more characters.

There’s also the Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands stage show, which is a lavish production in Frontierland Theater. We recommend one of the earlier performances and arriving 20 minutes before the scheduled showtime (potentially more on busier days), unless you’re going to purchase guaranteed seating.

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Afternoon Exploration – Before and following the afternoon parade, you should have time to slow down and explore (e.g., see the dragon like 17 more times). I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of exploration at Disneyland Paris. It truly is a treasure trove of details, and a park that is meant to be sipped like a fine wine.

For all that Disneyland Paris lacks, it does not lack a wonderful sense of romanticism and design that simultaneously achieves (otherwise contradictory) feelings of grandiosity and quaintness. It’s a park for wandering around, taking photos, and just generally soaking up the essence of great thematic design. Like Tokyo DisneySea, it feels like the Imagineers were given a blank check for the overall design of the park.

You might construe my comments above about the Indiana Jones ride as sarcasm, but I truly suspect there’s an inverse correlation between guest reaction to that ride and reaction to the park as a whole. Disneyland Paris is not a park for thrill or ride junkies. It’s for the type of guest who could wander World Showcase for hours.

Cable Car Bake Shop – I’ve previously espoused the virtues of this little shop on Main Street, so it should be no surprise that this is where I recommend stopping for a post-lunch coffee (so skip dessert and coffee if you eat at Walt’s).

When visiting France, one of our favorite things is stopping in little boulangeries in the morning (or really, any time of day) to start our day. I guess there’s some irony in the fact that this charming and intimate bakery in Disneyland Paris is actually American (it still feels European), but that takes nothing away from it.

Disney Stars on Parade – The daytime parade at Disneyland Paris is well worth seeing. Gorgeous costumes, well-designed floats, and a catchy soundtrack makes it worth the time. Oh, and just like underneath the castle, there’s a fire-breathing dragon, so that’s a big plus!

If you’re not a parade person, you could probably safely skip this, but it’s typically fairly easy to get a good spot only 15 minutes in advance, so it’s not like you’re sacrificing much to see it. Depending upon the time of year you visit, you’re also likely to find seasonal stage shows, and this is also a good time to take in one of those. Check your daily times guide for more info.

Thunder Mesa – “Disneyland Paris is the most beautiful park, but…” is a pretty common refrain, with that “but” being followed by concerns over maintenance, attraction quality, and Cast Members (all of which can be valid to some degree). None of these concerns apply in Frontierland, known as Thunder Mesa. This is Disneyland Paris firing on all cylinders.

The goal in placing it here is that you will experience Thunder Mesa under the glow of late afternoon leading into sunset, which is a pretty sublime experience for a Disney theme park fan. Do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Phantom Manor (again), eat dinner at Lucky Nugget Saloon (be mindful of their closing hours so you don’t get stuck eating “food” at the abysmal Cafe Hyperion), and time things so you take a sunset cruise on the Thunder Mesa Riverboats.

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Nighttime Discovery – Disneyland Paris wisely chose to punt on the Tomorrowland concept and instead went to a Jules Verne-inspired Discoveryland. It’s basically Tomorrowland, but with a different name and some tweaks in story and details. Like the other Tomorrowlands, it is best experienced at night (who knew neon lighting was so prominent in Verne’s day!). Many guests dismiss it because it’s “only” a walkthrough, but Les Mystères du Nautilus is a must-do attraction.

Hyperspace Mountain (a Star Wars variation of Space Mountain) is a rough ride, to the point that it literally hurt my head. Nonetheless, it’s fun and worth doing at least once. (Plus, I’m an old-timer, and I’ve seen younger people get off the attraction grinning ear to ear, so maybe it’s just me.)

Disney Dreams & Drones – Disneyland Paris debuted the concept of a mixed-media nighttime castle show with Disney Dreams, and that excellent show has returned! According to Disneyland Paris, the Disney Dreams nighttime spectacular was brought back because it had received one of the highest satisfaction rates since the park opened in 1992.

I believe it. Disney Dreams is incredible. It features fire, fireworks, water fountains, lasers, castle projections, and more. Peter Pan is the thread that ties together a montage show that emphasizes French and other European Disney stories. This show has heart and is technically breathtaking, making it something you absolutely cannot miss. We have this Disney Dreams viewing guide for those interested in finding the best spot and taking photos.

But wait, there’s more! There’s also a nightly drone show at Disneyland Paris. Right now, that’s Disney Electrical Sky Parade, a nighttime drone parade in the sky. Disney Electrical Sky Parade combines 500+ synchronized drones forming the parade floats plus, lasers, video projections, lights and fountains across Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Close Down Main Street – You may notice that we spent very little time on Main Street prior to this, despite it representing the high water mark of Main Street designs. This is because after Disney Dreams, it’s impossible to get to other lands, but Main Street remains open for shopping/lingering for another 30 minutes or so. Make sure to pay a visit to each of Arcades, explore the shops, and generally marvel at the meticulous level of design present in this incarnation of Main Street, USA.

All of this should be pretty easy to accomplish in a single day at Disneyland Paris, no matter what time of year you visit. Despite this, I personally could spend days and days at Disneyland Paris, just drinking it all in.

For the basics of planning a visit to Disneyland Paris, check out our Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide. Find the best place to stay in Disneyland Paris Hotel Reviews. Check out 101 Disneyland Paris Tips for some (101, to be exact) of our best random tips for doing DLP like a pro. See Disney Park Tickets Tips & Tricks for ways to save on tickets. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. Finally, for advice beyond Disney, check out our Ultimate Travel Guide to Paris, France.

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you like to do most at Disneyland Paris? Any tips of your own for exploring the park? If you’ve never been to Disneyland Paris, what interests you most about the park? Anything else to add? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!

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