Here are some things that people told me before we went or things we worked out ourselves that will hopefully be useful if you are planning a trip to Disney.
- Try to go slightly off season if you can. We went 1st Sept so the Fireworks and Night Parades weren't on but this was balanced with queues for rides that were 30 minutes instead of 1hr 30 minutes and much less bustle for the parades (plus it's cheaper too).
- Use Eurostar and the Disney Express Baggage Service. We can't fault the Eurostar for speed and ease of use. Three hours from St Pancras straight into the park. Then you leave you bags with Disney Express baggage and they take them straight to your room, so you can go play. The same on the return, the hotel takes your bags to the station so you are free to have a whole day in the park.
- Book your restaurants before you go. It sounds like something you think you don't need to bother with, but it is really worth booking your evening meal on the phone before you go. You can do all the bookings in one call and it will save you a tiring queue when you have had a busy day.
- Book at least one meal where you get to dine with the characters. You can meet the characters at different times around and about the park, but you will queue to do it and it's difficult to fit it all in. If you eat at Cafe Mickey, for example most of the characters come around and sit down with you to sign their autograph and have a photo. The kids love it - and surprisingly so do the adults!
- Book your hotel breakfast each evening. Again - this sounds unnecessary but believe me, I am SO glad we followed this advice. Breakfast at 7.30 was in a huge, almost empty, dining room but by 8 o'clock it was packed and the queue of people by 9am was right round the hotel. By the 3rd day we followed everyone elses lead and pocketed a few pastries and rolls for the journey home.
- The food is great but not cheap. There is a definite french flavour to the food, although it is quite americanised. Plenty of french bread and croissants for breakfast and waffles and crepes for snacks. The all you can eat buffets are very good, but make sure you fill you boots for around €27 per head, a burger style lunchtime meal is around €12 and a waffle was €3.
- Carry a water bottle. If you don't want to pay €3-4 per drink on a hot day, you can fill water bottles at the water fountains which are outside all of the toilets. If you buy snacks during the day you sometimes get a voucher for a free drink in the afternoon, which is worth using.
- Take a look at DLRP. This site has lots of really good information on it about fast passes and magic hours etc.
- Bag searches. All bags get searched on the way in before you go through the tickets booths. It causes a bit of a bottleneck but if you don't take any bags you walk straight through.
- Fast Passes. Read up about the fast pass system, it's a great idea but we found we only used them once as it's difficult to schedule your day around the available time, plus many rides were not running the system when we wanted it. It's worth using for the big queue rides.
- Magic Hours. Use them wisely, we planned to head into the park 8-10am to use our magic hours on the day we went to Disney Studios, but there is not anything much open in magic hours for younger kids in there. Likewise with AdventureLand and FrontierLand. DiscoveryLand has the most to use within magic hours.
- Plan to have a day at the studios. There is a good full day to be had in there for all age groups. Don't miss the Tram Ride for some great special effects.
- Plan for your age groups. In my opinion DiscoveryLand has more rides for older kids, FantasyLand is fab for little ones, especially girls, there is less to do in FrontierLand and AdventureLand but they are lovely to hang out in anyway. Our favourite rides were: Thunder Mountain, Crush's Coaster (gnarly dude) and the boy also liked Orbitron (like the old rockets at the fair!)
- While we talking about age...Obviously people from all ages were there, but personally we thought that those with babies or toddlers in buggies found it hard work. There is a lot of walking involved and at aged 8 our boy was the ideal to cope with that whilst still enjoying it. I also wonder if teens would be more suited to a place with more big rides.
- Newport Bay Hotel is a pretty good option. We stayed there and were very pleased with it. It has a lovely outdoor pool and if you are staying on the Admirals Floor you get complementary beach towels in the changing rooms. We walked via the lake to the parks as it's only 10 minutes and there's no need to get the shuttle bus. There is a little train that drives round the lake too that cost a few euros.
- Save time at Checkout. If you don't use your credit card via your room to pay for stuff, you don't need to check out as such, you can just leave your key at reception.
- Enjoy yourself! Give in to the crazy, candy coloured world of Disney.
If I think of anything else I will come back and add it later!