Unlike many European theme parks, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios are open year-round. Choosing when to visit, given the array of special events on offer and the variable weather conditions, can be a challenge. Here are our top tips.
Disneyland Paris opening dates and hours
Opening hours vary considerably depending on the time of year, with Disneyand Park remaining open until 10pm during peak seasons (Easter, summer and Christmas), but closing as early as 6pm during off-peak months.
Opening hours at Walt Disney Studios also vary, with the park remaining open until 7pm during peak seasons, but closing at 6pm during off-peak months.
Both parks typically open officially at 10am, although guests are often allowed through the gates as much as half an hour earlier. However, as on-site hotel guests are entitled to enter Disneyland Park 2 hours early on many days, other guests will be held at the entrance to themed lands until the official opening time.
Full details of Disneyland Paris opening times can be found on the Disneyland Paris website. In addition, you can check on which days Extra Magic Hours are in operation by checking the official calendar.
Deciding when to visit
Attendance levels at Disneyland Paris vary dramatically throughout the year. If you visit during peak periods, expect to encounter large queues for major attractions. However, during off-peak periods you’ll find a number of rides closed for refurbishment, and parades and shows out of action.
- Avoid the New Year rush – the busiest period of the year is between Christmas Day and New Years Day – avoid it if at all possible. You can still enjoy the Enchanted Christmas festivities by visiting just before Christmas, when the park is busy but not excruciatingly so.
- School holidays are busiest – during the rest of the year, the park’s busy periods coincide with school holidays in France and the rest of Europe (especially the UK). In particular, the weeks either side of Easter and mid-July to late August are very popular. If your only option is to visit during a school holiday, try and avoid weekends if possible. On the plus side, you will find the park open for around 12 hours per day, and with careful planning and use of the FASTPASS system it is still possible to experience a large number of attractions.
- Colder months = less people – the quietest periods are during autumn and winter (September – March, excluding the February and October half-terms). However, some major attractions are likely to be closed for “rehab” during these periods – check our Disneyland Paris refurbishment listings for the latest updates. Note that some rides, such as Casey Jr., Le Petit Train du Cirque and Le Pays de Contes de Fées, are more-or-less permanently closed outside of the peak season.
Special Events at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios
The Disneyland Resort Paris hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, with the Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas celebrations being by far the most popular. The parks can be crowded during these periods, but this is compensated for somewhat by a variety of additional shows and parades, as well as extended opening hours.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Disneyland Park) – generally held every weekend in October, this family-friendly event is hosted in Disneyland Park. In addition to special shows and trick-or-treating activities, it also includes late-night access to rides in Frontierland, Adventureland and Fantasyland.
- Terrorific Nights (Walt Disney Studios) – held during the last weekend of October, Terrorific Nights is an adult-oriented Halloween celebration. A number of attractions are given special Halloween overlays and populated by live actors, such as the “Terrorific Tram Tour”. The event is not recommended for children aged under 12.
- Disney’s Halloween Party (Disneyland Park) – held on the 31st October, Disney’s Halloween Party is the signature Halloween event at Disneyland Paris. It sees the park remain open until 1am for those who have purchased an event ticket, with a variety of family entertainment on offer.
- Mickey’s Magical Fireworks & Bonfire (Disneyland Park) – held on several days in early November, as its name suggests this event sees a spectacular fireworks display light up the skies above Disneyland Paris, as well as a giant, floating bonfire on Lake Disney.
- Enchanted Christmas (Disneyland Park) – the festive season at Disneyland Paris stretches from early December through to the first week of January. The focus of the Enchanted Christmas celebrations is very clearly Disneyland Park, with sister park Walt Disney Studios receiving only a smattering of decorations. The line-up of special events includes a festive show, an extended parade, a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and a chance to visit Santa in his grotto. Read our review of the 2011 event to find out what to expect.
- St. David’s Welsh Festival (Disneyland Park and Disney Village) – held in early March each year, this event sees Mickey and Minnie donning traditional Welsh garb. Special concerts are held both in the park and in Disney Village, as part of the Welsh Music Festival.
- St. Patrick’s Day (Disneyland Park) – the highlight of the celebrations on St Patrick’s Day in March is the special parade, which features a variety of popular characters and is capped by a fireworks display above Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Important factors to consider
- Ticket prices – unlike many other Disney parks, which offer constant ticket prices regardless of the time of year, Disneyland Paris charges less during the off-season. In addition to getting cheaper tickets outside of the summer months, you’ll also find that hotel-plus-ticket packages (at on- and off-site hotels) are priced much lower.
- Length of visit – If you plan to visit both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios, allow at least 2 days, and preferably 3. While you’ll be able to hit the highlights of Disneyland Paris in a single day, you’ll miss out on many of the smaller attractions that give the park its charm. Attempting to cover both parks in a single day is unrealistic, and should not be considered.
What do you think?
When is your favourite time of year to visit the Disneyland Resort Paris? Let us know by leaving a comment below.