The Ultimate Guide For Taking On Disneyland Paris With Your Toddlers

One of the best things about Disney theme parks is that they can be enjoyed by anyone — even families with young children. Even if your mini-me won't remember meeting their favorite Disney characters, a trip to Disney parks with toddlers in tow can be a blast. Everywhere you look, there's something new and exciting to take in. And that's as true at any Disney park you happen to be visiting, whether you find yourself at Walt Disney World Florida or Disneyland Paris.

Just like anyplace else you plan to visit with toddlers in tow, a successful Disneyland Paris trip with little ones is all about making sure you put in the right amount of planning — something that can be even more challenging when heading overseas. But with a little preparation and a fair amount of advice from others who have been there and done that already, hopping across the pond with very young Jedi can turn into an adventure of intergalactic proportions. Hang onto your mouse ears as we deliver the ultimate guide to navigating Disneyland Paris with tiny Mouseketeers.

Don't miss the Lion King show

Not every Disney show will translate well for the toddler experience. While it may be a more mature experience, many families enjoy checking out "The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands" with their little ones. This absolutely gorgeous stage show is visually similar to the Broadway musical and features dancers, acrobats, and simply stunning costumes. Although it's open to everyone visiting Disneyland Paris, seating is limited, and it can book up fast.

If you just can't handle another ridiculous queue in your life, you can go online and pay an additional fee to secure guaranteed access to the show (a limited number of these are available for free for Mastercard holders at 10 a.m. at City Hall). Guests with guaranteed access can enter the theater early through an alternate line. If you'd rather wing it, you'll want to arrive with plenty of time to spare — set aside at least an hour, some former park guests say on Reddit.

And if your little one is tired or grumpy, it might be worthwhile just to skip the show this time and focus on other things. The show itself is about 20 minutes long, which might not seem like a lot when you're planning your day. But tack on an afternoon of Disneyland Paris adventures and an hour-long queue, and some littles can start to hit their limit.

Make time to mingle with characters

If there's one thing that's almost always a hit with toddlers at Disneyland Paris, it's Disney characters. And there are plenty of them to be found in the parks. If you're a serious planner and want to make sure your little one meets up with their faves, you can pop onto the Disneyland Paris app and find out where the day's scheduled meet and greets will be.

No trip to Disney would be complete without a high-five from Mickey, who can be found in Fantasyland hanging out backstage between shows at the Meet Mickey Mouse theater. If Disney princesses are what you're looking for, you can find those fine folks at the Princess Pavilion, which is also located in Fantasyland. Superheroes can be found in the Walt Disney Studios Park at the Marvel Avengers Campus. Since the queues at all of these can get quite long, we recommend paying for a character meal or heading to the hotels for their character meets instead.

And be sure to manage your expectations. Commenting on Reddit, one parent confessed, "Be prepared for the fact that your toddler might be afraid of characters. Mine was unfortunately." Another added, "My toddler really enjoys meeting the characters but finds the experience a bit overwhelming the first time or two every visit."

Label your children

Anytime you're traveling with kids, the reality that you could become separated should be a consideration while planning. This is especially true when you're in a theme park thousands of miles from home across the Atlantic Ocean — particularly if your child is a darter. Like every other Disney park, the two Disneyland Paris parks have a lost child policy and at least one lost child meeting point. But that doesn't mean you should count on the cast members knowing what to do. In one Tripadvisor post, one parent from the U.K. recounted the ten minutes of sheer terror she experienced after she became separated from her autistic son and couldn't find a cast member who knew what to do.

With older kids, you can easily point out these spots and tell them to look for cast members' nametags if they become separated from your party. But if a little one suddenly bolts away in all the excitement of a Disney Parade, as toddlers are prone to do from time to time, you can't really count on her to request assistance from a cast member. That's why it's a good idea to label your children with your phone number for such an eventuality. The good news is that seasoned Disney parents have devised tons of great ideas for doing so, from Sharpie and liquid Band-Aid to DIY identification bracelets. Your child's magic band will also help cast members locate you.

Preview the rides before you go

When you're little, the world can be a strange and frightening place, and some toddlers can be set off by things that might not give adults a second thought. The Reddit Toddlers forum is riddled with tales of oddball phobias that inexplicably plague toddler parents' lives — things like dancing animals that make noise, pinwheels, Muppet chickens, and even flowers. Back in the day, parents would have to wait until they were on an actual ride to find out if it contained something potentially triggering for their toddler's unique phobias. Thankfully, in the modern world, parents can simply hop online and preview every attraction and ride ahead of time to find out exactly what to expect and (hopefully) avoid any more potential meltdowns than necessary.

And even if you've experienced a ride at Disneyland California or Walt Disney World, the Parisian version might not be exactly what you expect. In one Disneyland Paris Tripadvisor forum, several parents warned that Phantom Manor is significantly more frightening than The Haunted Mansion. Some young children can also be sensitive to certain lights and sounds on even the tamest dark rides. There are quite a few YouTubers who post Disney ride tours, and watching them will not only let you know what to expect but can also help your little one be ready for what they'll see, hear, and experience on the ride.

Use the rider switch

Imagine going all the way to Disneyland Paris with big dreams of riding Star Wars: Hyperspace Mountain, only to have to wait for an hour with the baby while your partner queues for the ride and then wait again for another hour after handing her off. The good news is that Disney knows and understands parents' pain, which is why they offer a rider switch for these very scenarios. The rider switch is the standard across every Disney park — even in Paris — and lets parents with a kiddo in tow ride and then switch places without the second parent having to start over at the back of the line.

The rider switch is simple. Once you and your partner get to the front of the queue, you'll need to let the cast member know that you're doing a baby switch. They'll give the second parent a ticket that can be used in the fast pass. That way, one of you gets to ride the ride while the other person waits, and after passing off the baby, the second person can ride without going back through the line. If you've got an older kiddo who wants to ride with the adult, this shouldn't be a problem. According to the parents on Reddit, cast members usually let the older kiddo go for a ride with both parents, which adds up to a pretty sweet bonus on the kid's part.

Don't miss the parades

Even if you don't plan on checking out any shows, Disney parades can be pretty exciting for toddlers and preschool-age kids — not to mention for parents. And they're full of little kid-friendly things — like dancing characters, colorful floats, and beloved Disney tunes for singing along. With a little one in your party, it's a good idea to plan your spot ahead of time and arrive early. Be sure to secure your snacks and post someone in your place at least 30 minutes ahead of the show — blogger Charlotte Ruff recommends up to an hour. To facilitate this, Disney actually posts their parade route online. And you can check out parade times on their official Disneyland Paris mobile app.

According to Paris City Vision, the parade route path in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle can become pretty congested. Instead, they recommend finding a spot between Discoveryland and Fantasyland to watch the parade. In a Tripadvisor comment, one Disney veteran offered up an even sneakier spot near the annual pass office adjacent to the roped-off area and disabled section. According to the commenter, the post and rope are left for folks to walk around until the parade begins but are removed once the parade starts. Another favorite spot is the outside corner between Frontierland and Adventureland.

Use the baby care centers

When you've been hopping around a theme park all day and need a time out with your baby, the baby care centers at Disneyland Paris are an absolute lifesaver. Like every other Disney park, Parisian Disney has no shortage of high-quality changing facilities for families. In their recap of a recent Disneyland Paris trip with a toddler, vloggers Your Own Set of Wings praised the park for its many clean restrooms. Said dad Rich, "Fair dues to Disney — there are toilets everywhere ... every toilet I went into seemed to be empty, and I can't think of any that didn't have baby changing facilities."

But the baby care centers offer families more than just a place to change diapers. Even though Disney parks are excellent at supporting breastfeeding, the baby centers provide a much calmer, private space to nurse for those who just need a break from the chaos. There's also a place to warm up bottles as well as baby food and supplies for sale. Plenty of high chairs, low seating, a television, and comfortable lighting make it a great spot to chill out for a moment without having to run all the way back to your hotel room. It's also a fantastic spot for families with neuro-spicy members to take a breather.

Learn the quiet spots before you go

Whether you're traveling with a toddler, preschooler, or neuro-spicy crew member, you're doing your future self a solid when you take time to figure out where the quiet zones are ahead of your trip. Sometimes, just a few minutes of calm can be enough to recharge your whole crew or even avert a catastrophic incident. While the baby care centers are great for this, it can pay off to know where a few other calm spots are located as well. If you really want to be prepared, you can print out a Disneyland Paris map and circle the chillout zones before you go.

Since Disneyland Paris regulars seem to know all the good spots, we consulted a handful of Reddit forums to get the skinny. Some of the best spots for crowd detox can be found hidden near and around Frontierland. Located near the entrance to Frontierland by the Native American tipis is one of the only speaker-free zones in the park, and there's another quiet zone close to the Rustling Roundup Shooting Gallery. It's a small dock open to the public, but few folks seem to know about it — and it's a perfect spot for watching Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. There are also a handful of quiet benches located near the Pueblo Trading Post and the Phantom Manor Cemetery.

Bring toddler-friendly snacks

You can certainly spend a mint on snacks while you're at Disneyland Paris. Realistically, your toddler is not going to appreciate that high-dollar Disney food any more than their favorite cereal. And it's a lot harder to ensure you're getting your little buddy the healthy nutrition he needs when you're picking up whatever is available at the nearest kiosk. To boot, you may not be able to count on those kiosks being open since the kiosks at Disneyland Paris are notorious for being closed.

Fortunately, Disney parks allow guests to bring in their own food, and it's a policy toddler parents should definitely take advantage of. According to the Disneyland Paris park rules, guests can bring in anything that doesn't require specific equipment, such as a cooler or large container. In other words, diaper bag snacks, granola bars, and various purse treats are more than fine. These can be a welcome distraction for fussy toddlers stuck in line a little too close to lunchtime. Most hotels will offer a grocery delivery service, or you can pick up some food near the train station that will cost considerably less than what you'll find in the park. There's even a picnic area just outside of the park entrance near the Disney Parks Car Park if you feel inspired to stick a few sandwiches in the rental car and nosh on some healthier homemade fare as a break from all the park food.

Plan to rent a stroller (or bring your own)

If you don't happen to bring a stroller with you on your trip to Disneyland Paris, you can and should pick one up at the pushchair and wheelchair rental after you get to the park. As one Reddit user insisted, "if you don't take the stroller, rent the stroller! it's vital." Pushchair rental can be found at Town Square Terrace if you're at Disneyland Paris Park or Studio Services if you're at Walt Disney Studios. You can even take your stroller out of the park when traveling between the two parks or back to your hotel – provided you've got your receipt.

One Tripadvisor user found their stroller "invaluable," noting that besides carrying the kiddo, it was useful for hauling things around. And depending on your toddler's age, a pushchair or stroller gives your little a place to konk out when they're tired." The visitor also said her 4-year-old took between two and three naps per day while on vacation, noting, "they get so tired from the busy days and excitement."

Disney strollers are also surprisingly comfortable. According to travel blogger Alyssa Padgett, the pushchair was suitable for both her 7-month-old and 3-year-old and featured a "sturdy fabric seat" and a metal step that made it easy for her preschooler to climb in and out by. There were even hooks on the back for a diaper bag.

Choose your dates carefully

Talk to the savviest Disney park pros, and they'll tell you they choose their travel dates carefully. For some Disney park regulars, finding the best time of year to visit Disney parks is something of an art form. This used to mean more, and the time of year you chose to visit Disney could mean the difference between an hours-long wait for It's a Small World or feeling almost like you have the park to yourself. But these days, Disney parks use a more high-tech park reservation system with built-in crowd control measures.

Nonetheless, it can still be worthwhile to consider the crowd volume based on a given calendar day, particularly when you're traveling with a small child — long queues can be difficult. To find out just how long that might be when you're thinking of traveling, check out the Disneyland Paris calendar at Queue Times. Another thing that's worth considering is the weather. Depending on when you're traveling, you could end up with some fairly cold and drizzly weather during the winter months, which can be a drag when you're toting around a little one.

Skip the formal dining experiences

One of the great things about traveling with little kids is just how darned cheap they are to feed — especially once you've factored in the hefty price tag that can come with Disney dining. Still, finding food that will keep your whole crew happy without giving everyone the vacation food blues can be something of a headache. And just like anywhere else, a few planning tricks can improve your Disneyland Paris meal times. If you're not sure what your kiddo will want to eat, a buffet can be beautiful since children under 3 generally eat for free, and it's easy to make them a little plate full of everything they might want. Praising the buffet for toddlers, one Reddit user said, "Own plate at the buffet, they can get however much they want and it's no issue," adding it's "a great time for a 2-year-old."

If you've got a picky eater in your crew, it's also a good idea to check out the menus online ahead of time. As a user on a different Reddit thread put it, "food for tiny people can be a bit dicey if they're into typical toddler food. Remys was chicken Pate on toast for the kids menu starter, that went down like a lead balloon." Mickey pizzas from Colonel Hathi's Pizza Outpost, however, turned out to be a huge hit. And like other Disney parks, you can use DIsney's mobile food app to order ahead from quick food joints.