If you happen to be in St. Pancras International Station in London during a half-term school holiday, you may notice that the average height of those waiting for the Eurostar is a little over one metre. You’ll also hear a massive cheer (followed by a parental sigh) when the Eurostar to Disneyland Paris is ready to board. Disneyland Paris is the most popular attraction of its kind in Europe, with 15 million visitors yearly.
The idea for a European version of Anaheim, California’s Disneyland began in the early 1970s and accelerated after the successful opening of Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, which was an instant success. France and Spain competed for the location of the new theme park, and a site was considered near Toulon in southern France. However, the thick bedrock underlying the area was considered too much of a difficulty to overcome, and the rural town of Marne-la-Vallé, east of Paris was chosen instead. The town is located less than four hours by car for 68 million people, with another 300 million within two hours by air. Disneyland Paris is on a 55-hectare site, has 52 attractions, seven hotels, a ranch, campsite, gardens, and golf course.
If you want to drive from Paris, Disneyland Paris is 30 km to the east on the A4 freeway that goes from Paris to Germany. If you’re driving from the UK or Belgium, take the A1 and then take the A104 (Francilienne freeway) a few km past Charles de Gaulle Airport. Public transport from Paris is simple. You take the RER A metro from Paris towards Marne-la-Vallée (being careful not to get on the RER A towards Boissy Saint Leger) and disembark at Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy. From Frankfurt, Brussels, Amsterdam, London, and other major cities, you can take a TGV train directly to Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy station. From there it’s only 100 metres from the entrance to Disneyland Paris. If you’re landing at CDG Airport, there are private shuttles by Paris Shuttle that can take you directly to Disneyland Paris.
There are a range of different admission passes you can purchase to visit Disneyland Paris, including one-day passes and multi-day passes, some of which can be used on non-consecutive days within one year. The admission fees include unlimited access to rides and activities, though there are some special activities, such as meals with the Disney characters that will set you back an extra €22/15 (adult/child). The admission fees vary by season, and there are always package deals on offer with transport and/or accommodation included.
If you stay in one of Disneyland’s hotels, you’ll have access to other activities, such as indoor and outdoor swimming, and pony rides for children. Those who enjoy shopping can stop at Val d’Europe shopping centre or La Vallée Village, both of which are about 10 minutes from the theme park. These are fashion outlets for French fashion brands. And if you want to dispense with the park altogether, shopping tours at these places are available from Paris.
Disneyland Paris is an immensely popular European destination, and not just for families with children. Many couples enjoy visiting there as a fun and romantic getaway, whether they’re 25 or 75.