For many people, the idea of long queues and high ticket prices are enough to stop them from experiencing the magic of Disneyland Paris. So it made me wonder, is it possible to spend a day at the parks avoiding long queues.
To do this I have set myself some ground rules
- I will aim to spend my day at Disneyland Park
- Consider the whole day, including getting into the parks and leaving at the end of the day
- Shops and restaurants are included not just attractions as you need to queue to pay
- Even toilet breaks need to be considered (this can be the most frustrating queue of the day for many!)
- Assume it is a typical park day, it would be easy to tell people to visit off season but this simply isn’t an option for many families
- Finally, waiting anymore than 10 minutes would be considered a queue
Will this be possible, I am excited to use this blog to explore this theory
The first potential queue of any Disneyland visit is the security checks on the way into the parks. These are essential for guest safety so there is no way to bypass this. However, there are ways to minimise the wait. If you enter via the main security checks you will be faced with long queues which can be a frustrating start to your day.
If I am staying at a Disney Hotel, then entering via Disney Village offers smaller waits times. There are 2 checkpoints, one to the left and one to the right of the Lake Disney. However, I will aim to use the security entrance closest to the New Port Bay Hotel (map point 1). Guests from the New York Hotel, Sequoia Lodge and those walking from Cheyanne and Santa Fe tend to go through the other checkpoint which leads to much longer lines.
If I am staying offsite, I would get an Uber to the parks. This is typically 5-10 Euros from nearby hotels saving on the parking charge of 25 Euros for a car and this will drop you off at the Disney Village entry point (map point 2). If you want to bring a car, you could still use this entrance if you use the Indigo Car Park rather than the main Disneyland Car Park. This entrance is very underused and is much quicker. This option also comes with the added bonus of a wonderful view of the Disneyland Hotel as you drive up the avenue.
Entering Disneyland Park
My first train of thought was to avail of Extra Magic Time. This begins at 8.30am but you may be surprised that I suggest not arriving at this time. A large crowd gathers each morning waiting for the parks to open so if I arrive early I will face a queue of excited guests. Arriving at 8.35 – 8.40am will allow the initial rush of people to enter the park, allowing me to join the moving pack and enter the park with much less queuing time.
The gates entering the park are turnstiles so to ensure I don’t go over my 10 minute limit my choice of gate to use is important. People with a pram need to go through the middle gate, which slows down the queue. Also guests waving paper copies of tickets are often slower entering as the scanner is slow to read paper printouts. A quick scan before I head towards the gate can help get me into the parks as soon as possible.
However, not everyone can take advantage of Extra Magic Time. If you are not staying at a Disney Hotel, I suggest a later start. The parks open at 9.30am so entering around 10.30am will allow you to miss the initial rush.
Starting your Day
If you have Extra Magic Time, this will allow me to go on my first attraction of the day. My choice to avoid a queue is to head straight to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. The constantly moving nature of the ride means that queues rarely form at the start of the day and I can potentially walk on to this ride.
Coming off this ride, I will check the 2 neighbouring rides Orbitron and Space Mountain. If I am lucky, one of these will have a wait time of less than 5 minutes and I will hit up my second attraction of the day. If I have to make a choice, I would choose Orbitron as the lines for this become long very quick and are consistently long throughout the day.
This will bring me to about 9am. At this point lines will have built up at all of the open rides. It is worth a check on the Disneyland Paris app to see if any rides are below 5 minutes. A ride showing as 5 minutes is basically a walk on as Disney will never show a queue time of zero!
Instead, this is when I take my first food stop for the day. I would head to the Cable Car Bake Shop. As people stream into the parks, few people take the time to sit and eat so this is the perfect time to have a continental breakfast. The seating inside is usually free at this time and the queue is rarely more than 1 or 2 people deep. Food is a big part of a Disney trip for me, so I don’t mind taking 20 minutes to sit and enjoy a Nutella Muffin!
At 9.30am the park opens to all guests. Until this point, several of the lands are closed. This give me an opportunity to beat the queues again. There are 2 options here, Frontierland and Adventureland. I love Big Thunder Mountain but so does everyone else in the park, so although it pains me to do so, I would head to Adventureland.
To enter this part of the park, I suggest waiting at the entrance in Fantasyland. Most people wait in the hub but who can blame them with the wonderful backdrop of the castle. Once the rope is dropped, I will head straight to Indiana Jones, my third attraction of the day. This is a good ride but rarely top of the list for many. So as people flood to Pirates and Big Thunder, I hope to walk on to this ride.
Once I come off the ride, I will have a quick check and see if the wait time is still under 5 minutes and go back on for my 4th ride of the day.
We are now after 10am and at this point, the guests are now filling up the park and my no queues day is going to become much more challenging.
With the park now busy, this is a great opportunity to avail of the walkthrough attractions. Adventure land has a host of activities which guests can explore and enjoy. My first stop will be the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. This has some wonderful views and is the perfect place to take photos of the park.
The nearby Pirate Galleon and Adventureland caves would keep me occupied for an hour, exploring and taking photos. These are a highly underated part of the Disneyland Park and having the time to explore them before they get busier is a real highlight for me.
Given the number of guests who visit the park each day, getting food can be a challenge and many people brave long queues to eat at lunchtime. To avoid queues, I have eaten light in the morning so I can have an early lunch. If I am going to avoid queues I need to choose a place off the main routes and Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost is a great option. Not far from the Treehouse, many people do not even know this place exists so at around 11am queues are often non existent.
The afternoon is one the most challenging parts of my day. The park is usually full of guests and it will be hard to avoid any queues during this time so I will have to plan this carefully.
My first stop is to visit the Castle. Entering via Fantasyland, I will be exploring the 2 shops hidden inside. I simply love the Christmas Shop which is full of merchandise that regularly burns a whole in my pocket. The crystal shop across the way regularly has glass making demonstrations and without worrying about hitting the attraction lines, I can watch in awe as they shape molten glass into wonderful shapes like roses.
Downstairs, I have to visit the Dragon. This is the biggest animatronic in Disneyland Paris and the setting is wonderfully atmospheric. Upstairs, I really enjoy the walkthrough showing the story of Sleeping Beauty. In particular, I love going outside and getting photos of the beautiful Fantasyland.
Next stop is the Castle Stage. Shows run here regularly throughout the day and usually there is space to stand towards the back. Without going early, I will have a restricted view but the music and atmosphere mean that this is still a worthwhile experience.
I will now detour to Discoveryland to pick up a FastPass for Star Tours making the number of rides now 5. FastPass allows me to skip the regular queue during a given time window. However, how useful this is varies from attraction to attraction. For example, in Buzz Lightyear this simply allows you to skip the outdoor queue but the indoor queue is about 20 minutes long so this would fail my queuing criteria. Star Tours FastPass takes you to almost the front of the line so is perfect for my challenge. The time slot will be around 4 hours after the current time so I will be hoping for a slot around 6/7pm.
As I pass by Space Mountain I will be checking the wait time for the Single Rider line. This line helps fill any single gaps in the ride vehicles so often has much reduced wait times but won’t allow you to ride with the rest of your party. The ride time is variable across the day so if I see it below 5 minutes, I will head straight in for my sixth ride of the day.
If this is busy, I will head to Les Mystères du Nautilus. This is a walkthrough attraction with amazing detail. It is another attraction that most people don’t even realise is an attraction and rarely has any wait time.
It wouldn’t be a day at Disney without seeing the parade. To get a great spot without waiting will be highly unlikely as many people grab their spots 1 hour before the parade. However, there are 2 places which offer a decent view and maybe free in the 10 minute window I have before the parade.
The queue line for Small World has a section which overlooks the parade route, as does the line for the Main Street Railway station. Technically, you cannot watch from a queue line so I have to be prepared to be moved on by the Cast Members. You also miss out on the interaction with Characters on the ground level but you still get to see the amazing floats and enjoy the pumping soundtrack. With an ambitious task of having no queues, this is my best bet. Main Street is usually crowded so Small World would be my ideal choice.
Straight after the parade, I will head to Alice’s Curious Labyrinth. The parade is the end of the day for my families with small children reducing the wait times in Fantasyland in the evening. My best bet for no queue is the Labyrinth which is a fun attraction which has been recently updated to restore its former glory.
Table Service Dinner
The downside of no queues is that the day involves a lot of walking. Therefore, I intend the spend more money and avail of a table service meal. The buffet meals are good value but their all you care to enjoy nature means that even if I book a time, often you may wait over 10 minutes just to be seated. To avoid a queue I would choose Walts. The price means this restaurant often has seating available and keeps to its reservation times. Also, the food here is wonderful so it wouldn’t take much convincing to make me eat here.
This also give me an alternative to my Parade plan. I could try to book Walts around 5.30pm and watch the parade from the windows overlooking Main Street.
After I finish my meal, I hope to use my FastPass for Star Tours. On the way, I again check the single rider line for a 5 minute wait time. Unfortunately, queues for Autopia are long all day long, so my challenge will stop me from riding this attraction.
With Discoveryland under my belt, I will head over to the Aladdin walkthrough attraction at the entrance of Adventureland. This never has a wait and with this being one of my favourite films it is certainly worth a visit.
The Disneyland Paris App will be very important from this point onwards to spot any opportunities for walk on rides. At low times, it is not unusual for Phantom Manor or Pirates to drop to 5 minutes. Both of these rides I will keep an eye on, hopeful for the 7th and 8th rides of the day.
Big Thunder Mountain is my favourite attraction and it would be amazing to make this part of my day. However, to get a FastPass I often have to queue over 10 minutes so this would fail my initial rules. Fortunately, Disney have given me an option to skip this queue by releasing Access One. This Blog by DLP Geek is a great guide (http://thedlpgeek.com/disney-access-one-unlimited-idea/) but in summary this allows you to buy a FastPass and use it at any time unlike the time restrcitions on the orginal FastPass. This costs 15 euros so it is not cheap but would be a great way of building my favourite ride into this challenge.
Fireworks and Park Exit
Although Disney Illuminations has had mixed reviews, it still draws a large crowd. To see the true beauty of the show you do need to grab your spot at least an hour in advance. However, if you position yourself at the Town Square you will be able to enjoy all of the fireworks and a large proportion of the projections. Most people huddle in the main Hub leaving the Town Square of Main Street quite empty. To make it to here, I will use the connecting route from beside the Lucky Nugget which links to the Arcade walkway leading down to the square.
This also has the added benefit of me being close to the exit once the show ends. Given the volume of people leaving, this is the last queue I could face so being ahead of all those crowds will allow me to exit easily.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t factor in any Character meets. To do this I could swap out breakfast at the Cable Car for breakfast at Plaza Gardens. Here the characters come to me, often these include Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. Alternatively, instead of Walt’s. I could have headed to Inventions in the Disneyland Hotel. Character meals are expensive but do offer a great way of doing meets without long waits.
I think it is possible to spend a day in the parks without any queues but it does come with sacrifices. There are many attractions that I would miss out on and I am not sure that everyone would be keen on an early lunch. I also didn’t think that it would be possible to do any character meets as these often come with big lines. However, I think it is possible to have a fun day without spending hours in the queues so maybe on a longer trip this may be a nice option for a relaxing park day.
Would you ever try a queue free day? We would love to hear from you, so please comment below.