Guide to Disneyland Paris (Traveling to Disneyland Paris)
As an American visiting Disneyland Paris there are a number of items to include in your trip planning.
Airline and Flight Logistics, Passports, and Customs
Charles de Gaulle Airport is the largest international airport in France and the second largest airport in Europe. Charles de Gaulle Airport serves as a Hub for Air France offering non-stop service to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago-O’Hare, Detroit, Houston-Intercontinental, Mexico City, Miami, Montréal-Trudeau, Los Angeles, New York – JFK, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Washington-Dulles, and Toronto-Pearson along with seasonal non-stops to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Air France is part of the Air France-KLM Flying Blue frequent flyer program which also includes US carrier Alaska Airlines. Among the US airlines, Delta has the most direct flights, with United and American Airlines also well represented.
Traveling to Europe requires a valid passport and upon entering Europe you should expect a fairly lengthy line for customs. Less experienced international travelers might be inclined to underestimate the impact navigating through customs could have on making a connection. Global entry, the US government’s expedited immigration program, does not speed up customs and immigration into Europe. Therefore, your safest bet is to allow yourself two to three hours to clear customs depending at which airport you arrive. It’s shocking how much stress many travelers experience when they have a relatively short layover and face a long immigration line. There’s no need to start off your vacation with stress, so do yourself a favor and give yourself ample time.
Upon returning stateside, Global Entry is a wonderful service that I highly recommend and many mid and upper tier credit cards (i.e. those with annual fees) will cover the application fee as a card benefit. For my United Airlines flight from Paris to Newark, it took me approximately 30 minutes from walking off the plane until I arrived at the gate for my next flight. For those unfamiliar with international travel, this means in 30 minutes I was able to do the following: clear customs, retrieve my checked luggage, recheck my luggage, and clear security via the TSA pre-check line. Because my connecting flight was with the same airline my gates were fairly close together, but even so, that is a lot of steps to navigate in a fairly short amount of time.
Any prudent first-time international traveler should have a fair amount of concern regarding the language barrier when visiting a foreign country. That said, English-speaking tourists at Disneyland Paris really don’t experience a language barrier. Many Europeans’ have an excellent grasp of English with school systems having taught English for decades. This is even truer when visiting Disneyland Paris. Rider instructions and other mandatory communication were given in both French and English.
In fact, many times I intended to use simple French words such as Merci (Thank You) or Bonjour (Hello) but caught myself responding in English because the cast members I interacted with were so fluent and quick to respond in English. While I would highly advise having a translation app on your phone, I didn’t use my translation app a single time. Honestly, the language barrier at Disneyland Paris was comparable to the language barrier at Chefs de France in Epcot.
WiFi & Cell Service
For those of us accustomed to Walt Disney World or Disneyland free WiFi in Disneyland Paris was one minor area of disappointment. I stayed on Disney property at Disney’s Hotel New York and was very pleased with the hotel’s WiFi connection. As I moved away from the Hotel and walked through the Disney Village there was sporadic WiFi I could connect to, often the result of WiFi from an individual store or restaurant versus the blanket coverage of good WiFi covering the area. Once in either Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park, there was WiFi but whether it was temporary signal interference or an issue specific to my own phone I found the WiFi connections sporadic.
Outside of the obvious impact of less reliable WiFi than we come to expect at Disneyland or Walt Disney World (admittedly spoiling us given the number of guests these networks support), a not as apparent outcome includes the inability to count on backing up video and photos to the cloud. Simply put, be sure to have enough space on your phone to support your picture and video taking needs and treat the ability to back up these items and clear out space on your device as an added benefit whenever possible.
Cell service appeared to be readily available but naturally, you will be on a French network. Therefore, establish an international calling plan with your domestic provider before you leave on your vacation. As someone who primarily uses his phone for taking pictures, I wasn’t overly concerned about cell coverage as I knew I could schedule calls around access to a WiFi signal. While my personal requirements for cell service were minimal, I would have still greatly benefited from a backup source for my data needs when WiFi wasn’t available. Therefore on my next trip, I may sign up for a better plan to minimize my reliance on WiFi.
Ironically, electrical outlets proved to be my biggest hurdle while traveling abroad. First, to clarify, US electrical voltage is 110 volts while European outlets are 220 volts. Next, the actual item(s) requiring the electrical current (hairdryer, cell phones, computer, etc) can either be a single (many hair dryers) or dual (iPhone) voltage appliance. Therefore as you’re packing keep a tab on all of your dual voltage appliances which will only need an adapter, but for those appliances that are single voltage, you need a converter as well so that the 220-volt electrical current doesn’t fry your appliance.
The above considerations are fairly straightforward and so I purchase a small converter along with what I believed to be the correct adapter so that I would be covered. Personally, my problem arose when I realized the set of adapters I had purchased included a Southern and Northern European variety and I took the wrong adapter with me. Depending on which travel adapters you purchase they could be labeled differently, but as I learned you need to ensure you are taking the right variety of adapters for your location in Europe.
Bottom line: in the realm of international travel a trip to Disneyland Paris is easy. There are a few items to keep in mind so your trip can be the magical vacation you seek, but with even a small amount of advance planning, Disneyland Paris is the perfect destination for even the most intrepid traveler.