Disneyland Paris is just magical at any time of year, but it does really come into it's own over winter. There are three celebrations over the winter period which are definitely worth seeing - Halloween, Christmas and New Year. The decorations are really special and more than make up for the colder weather. That being said, making some extra plans and preparations so that you are comfortable in the colder weather is a great idea and will make visiting Disneyland Paris in winter an amazing experience.
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Disneyland Paris has two parks - Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Sleeping Beauty's castle is at the centre and you will find attractions, shows, parades and restaurants full of Disney's fairytale magic. There are rides aplenty, greater than any in a theme park in the UK!
Walt Disney Studios Park takes you through the worlds of Disney and Pixar. There are brilliant shows, attractions and they celebrate special seasons which are brilliant for fans of a particular genre such as Star Wars.
If you are a fan of Halloween then this is a great time to visit Disney parks. This year the Halloween festival runs from the 1st October 2022 until the 6th November 2022. It probably doesn't quite count as winter as it is usually quite warm over there still in October but it would be worth taking layers and waterproofs just in case. The park is decorated for Halloween and you can find lots of Halloween themed goodies in the shops.
We visited Disneyland Paris for the first time in at the beginning of January, just after Christmas and it was a brilliant time to go. The Christmas decorations were still up so it had a really wonderful atmosphere (check online as to when the Christmas theme will be up, for 2022 - 2023 it is from the 12th November until the 8th January). Christmas season is definitely my favourite time to be in Disney - there are decorations galore and a Christmas tree on every corner!
New Year is a big deal at Disneyland Paris and they host a New Year Party from 8.30pm to 2am on the 31st December with fireworks and selected attractions open. You will need to book tickets for the party separately to your park tickets.
We went during the first few days of the school term so it was quite a lot cheaper. Obviously not everyone can do that if they have children in school but if you can, if you have younger children definitely make the most of that while you can.
What to wear at Disneyland Paris in winter
It is likely to be cold during the winter months, especially December, January and February.
- Wear layers - wear a thermal base layer and thick fleecy leggings or trousers.
- Thick socks and snow boots are also a good idea.
- Hats, scarves and gloves will help to keep you warm and are easy to take on and off.
- Waterproofs - pack waterproofs as if it snows or rains you will want them as you will be freezing if you get wet!
- If you are dressing up children, Princess dresses can be worn over warm layers or try a see-through raincoat over the top so everyone can still see that they are Disney princesses!
- Mickey ears can be worn on top of hats!
- Pack hand warmers - they will be a lifesaver in really cold weather.
- If you have younger children a pushchair will be a lifesaver and you can layer up little ones with blankets.
Where to eat in Disneyland Paris in winter
You will want to bear in mind that the park closes earlier in the winter and therefore some of the restaurants, including character dining won't be serving dinner. You can still eat in the restaurants outside of the park or back at your hotel. With this in mind, if you want a character dining experience it might be worth looking at a breakfast instead. Bear in mind too that a character dining experience is a great way to meet several Disney characters, while staying in the warm!
Either way, plan to head inside for a warm meal and rest between activities. Make sure that you book your restaurant reservations in advance so that you can plan your day and know when you are heading into the warm after a long day.
How to get to Disneyland Paris in winter (from the UK)
From the UK you can get to Disneyland Paris by driving and taking the ferry or Eurotunnel or you could go on the Eurostar or fly. These are all good options but bear in mind that the ferry crossing might be choppier in bad winter weather. Personally we found driving through the Eurotunnel to be the easiest option. If you choose to fly you can get the train, bus or taxi to your hotel, or you might want to hire a car. Renting a car in Paris is a great option if you want to see more of France while you are there. Discover Cars is a cheap car rental business in Paris and they have a huge range of vehicles to suit any family. Day trip destinations from Paris could be to Lille, the Loire Valley and Versailles.
Where to stay
You will want to stay somewhere warm and cosy during the holiday season and because of that I would recommend Sequoia Lodges or the Nature Villages Park. Both have heated pools so there is something to do if the weather outside is truly awful and the Sequoia Lodges have a wonderful cosy feel to them which is perfect for the time of year. If your budget allows a stay at the main Disneyland hotel - Disney Hotel New York which is also a great option as it is so central you won't need to walk far or get on a shuttle bus to and from the parks.
If you stay in one of the Disney Hotels you get Extra Magic Hours which means that you get access to the park for an hour before regular ticket holders. This is well worth doing as you can get onto some of the busier rides with a much shorter queue - meaning that you won't have to wait in the cold for as long.
You can also take advantage of some other perks such as having your shopping delivered back to your hotel room to save you carrying it around. Many of the hotels also have great facilities on site, such as restaurants, gyms and pools for when you want to head inside from the cold, and they also have a Disney theme which adds to the magic.
Extras to take with you
- Definitely pack snacks to keep your energy up and keep you entertained while queuing for rides.
- Hand warmers are a good idea!
- Take a thermos flask that you can fill with a hot drink before you leave the hotel for the parks (some hotels also have free hot drinks machines so you can top up on hot chocolate for the little ones)
- Take an autograph book and pen with you - you will be able to get them cheaper here before you go. Cast members will sign autographs at a character meet!
Consider using Premier Access
You can now get Premier Access which works like a fast pass which will mean you can get onto some of the bigger more popular rides quicker. If you can afford the extra cost this will save you from queuing up in the cold. There are two different versions, depending upon how much you want to spend.
Most of all have fun! Going through all of this and looking back at the photos has made me really want to book our next trip!
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