Eating at Disneyland Paris pt. 3

This will, probably, be the last blog post about eating at Disneyland Paris and will contain miscellaneous information and general tips and tricks for your journey, such as advice about food allergies, how food works at Davy Crockett Range and character dining.

General tips and tricks

  • Disneyland Paris does allow their guests to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages with them to the park, but what they don’t allow is those large cooler bags where you store food in. You may bring food in your backpack and have a picnic for lunch inside the park, as long as it’s not in a large group, so my advice would be to have a picnic just outside the main entrance or by the lake in the Disney Village. Find yourself a spot on a bench and eat away, and remember to throw away the rubbish in the bins once you’re done.
  • If money is tight on food, there’s a McDonald’s in the Disney Village, along with a Vapiano and a Five Guys, where you’ll able to spend less money for more food than you would inside the park. Generally, the restaurants, even the Disney ones, outside of the park, are a bit better priced than the ones inside. The portions are also a bit larger and filling too.
  • There are no supermarkets within walking distance of Disneyland Paris, it’s a train station away, and the ones that are close are accessible by car. This is rather unfortunate, since a supermarket could really help you keep your food costs down. But then again, it would be a shame not to try some of the food at the parks, since it’s pretty tasty – but really pricy.
  • France has a law against refillable drinks, so you can’t get unlimited cups at restaurants, the only exception, for some reason, being Five Guys at Disneyland Paris. The price is slightly higher for sodas at their restaurants to compensate for that and their menu board clearly states that refills are included in the price.
  • Breakfast isn’t included in the price as a standard on regular rooms, but they are include when you book superior rooms or suites.

Saving at the restaurants

  • When you’re at a table service restaurant – ask for a set menu to save money. The general rule is that a set menu will be a bit cheaper than buying each dish separately. Restaurants will usually have a set children’s menu too, as well as adult menus.
  • At fast food restaurants it’s best to get a menu too, for the same reason as above – it’s on the whole cheaper to get a menu consisting of a main, side and a drink, like a hamburger, side salad or French fries, and a soft drink.
  • Go out from the park and eat lunch or dinner at McDonald’s – which is your cheapest option and they do have a couple of vegetarian alternatives too.
  • At counter service restaurants, or even at table service places, sharing a plate or two of French fries amongst yourselves is a great way to save money, especially if you’re a family with young children who might not eat a full portion of French fries by themselves. Sharing two sides instead of purchasing 5, one for each member of your group/family, will save you about 10€. Even if you get three sides, you’ll still save a bit of money.

Davy Crockett Range

Davy Crockett Range is a bit special as a hotel, it’s not even a hotel – it’s a series of cabins. The way they offer food is also a bit different. Davy Crockett don’t have a breakfast restaurant, instead you’ll receive your breakfast in a basket and you’re expected to cook it yourself at the cabin you’ve booked. Naturally the cabins are equipped with a kitchens and cooking it depends on your skills. Dinner can’t be eaten at their tavern either at the moment, since they’re renovating it. From 8.1 2018 to 31.7 2018 their tavern will be refurbished and not available to the guests, but they do offer alternatives for dinner.

Character dining

Character dining at all the Disneylands and Disney Worlds is one of the most popular forms of dining and the restaurants that offer it books up faster than lightning. Character dining is a meal, either breakfast, lunch or dinner, where you’ll eat your meal and is visited by various Disney characters during the meal, who cruises from table to table to interact with the diners and allow them to have their picture taken with them, or get an autograph.

A few of the hotels serves breakfast where Disney characters and princesses will attend, all of them are official hotels: Disneyland Hotel (5*) and Hotel New York (4*) are two examples. Drop your hotel a phone call, or check the Disneyland Paris website, to see what hotels offers character breakfasts. The breakfasts can be booked up to three (3) days before your arrival, so put in a reminder in your calendar or on your phone to get in on this meal, if you’re interested. For lunch meet and greets with princesses, Auberge de Cendrillon is the place you want to book a table at. They serve fine French cuisine and is well worth a visit! For a random mix of Disney characters at lunch time it’s the Disneyland Hotel, which overlays the main entrance, that’s the place for you. When you want to meet Disney characters for dinner, instead of lunch, you’re going to find them at Mickey’s Café. Mickey’s Café has a nice Italian menu and is a table service restaurant, unlike the lunch at the Disneyland Hotel which is a buffet with dishes from all over the world.

Character dining is primarily aimed at children, but adults attending without children are most welcome too. I’ve been to the character dining at Mickey’s Café and I thought it was nice, plus the cast members appeared to be used to adult Disney fans. They’ve seen it, so don’t feel ashamed or too old to choose this as an option for one off your meals, it’s perfectly okay! See it as a fun meal that’s part of your overall Disney experience and go with the flow. Remember that this option costs a bit more than a regular meal, unless you’re on the Premium meal plan – then it’s included in the price. You do need to be early to book this, again to avoid disappointment at the park. Call the Restaurant Reservations on +33 1 60 30 40 50 to make your booking. Should you forget it and not remember it until you’re actually already at the park, head over to your concierge or receptionist as soon as possible to assure a chance of snagging a table for yourself and your family and/or friends.

Now you, hopefully, know a bit more about how dining at Disneyland Paris works and what your alternatives are. Sometime in the future I’m going to write a post where I introduce all the restaurants and fast food places and tell a bit more about what they serve and what their prices are.

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Eating at Disneyland pt. 1

Like most other things at Disneyland Paris, eating is expensive in relation to what you get for your money. I was surprised at how costly it actually was to purchase food at the restaurants when I went there and others I’ve spoken to has expressed the same opinion. Food at the food places at the parks are over the top and the guests are forced to pay up, since you’ve got to eat. As an example, I had to pay at least 10€ for a meal consisting of a hot dog, chips (French fries for you who are unfamiliar with British terms) and a soft drink, which is ridiculous. Food will, inevitably, be a costly story, especially if you’re part of a family. There are, as always, ways to save and be smart with your money without skimping on quality and your overall experience. After all, you’re at Disneyland Paris for the experience and to have a magical time – food should not be the reason you feel disappointed when leaving. In this post I’ll discuss the advantages of getting a meal plan for your stay at Disneyland Paris, a choice that is well worth the money if you can’t get it for free as part of a holiday package.

A meal plan is simply put a plan where you prepay for a set amount of meal, either half board (breakfast and either lunch or dinner) or full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with a different number of restaurants available, depending on what plan you choose (standard, plus or premium).

Meal plans

At the moment Disneyland Paris offers 3 types of meal plans:

  1. Standard meal plan
  • Either as half board or full board
  1. Plus meal plan
  • Half or full board
  1. Premium
  • Half or full board

The basic difference between the three are the amount of restaurants that you’ve got to choose from when you eat your lunch and/or dinner. If you book the half board of either plan you will get breakfast and either lunch or dinner for each of the days you’ve purchased, and full board includes three square meals per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meal plans are a fantastic way of saving money on food, I highly recommend having one when you visit the parks. The costs add up really quickly and when you’re on a plan, you know what you’ll be spending on the meals that are included in your plan. When I went to Disneyland I had a free half board plan included in the price that included breakfast and either dinner or lunch and it was fantastic. I had breakfast before entering the park in the morning, ate lunch in the park and used my other voucher for dinner after a full day at the park, before taking the bus back to the hotel. It worked like a charm and was well worth it. During your check-in at the Disneyland hotel you’ll be given all of the vouchers in an envelope along with a letter telling you how they work and where you can redeem your vouchers. The receptionist will also explain them to you very clearly and answer any questions you may have about how the plan works.

It’s worth noting that breakfast isn’t included in the price of a standard room as a standard, which has spawn a fourth option in regards to dining plans – the breakfast meal plan. Like its name suggests it only contains breakfast at your hotel’s breakfast room and is not a character meet and greet breakfast, those have to be booked in advance and cost extra. When I stayed at Disneyland I only had the option of going to counter services for my breakfast and didn’t even have hotel breakfast. Counter service equals restaurants that have over the counter services, like fast food place (e.g. McDonald’s and the likes of it). I found it limiting, but it worked out – breakfast isn’t my thing anyway. Breakfast is included in the price when you book a suite or a premium room at any of the official Disneyland Paris hotels. Disneyland doesn’t offer any plans for snacks and none of their meal plans have any included, so you’ll need to bring your own, or purchase them in the different snack shops inside the parks. Most of the snack shacks and ice cream parlours are closed at the moment for refurbishment, so if you’re heading over there in the near future – check the Disneyland website (www.disneylandparis.co.uk) for what’s open and what’s not.

The Standard meal plan is the cheapest option that’s on offer and is available in either half or full board. This is also where your alternatives for dining are the most limited – only a small list of buffets. No matter if you choose the half or the full board, you’re only going to be able to alternate between a series of buffets. So, if you don’t mind eating buffets for every meal then this is definitely for you. Each meal (lunch and dinner) includes a soft drink too. There’s no reason to feel bored when eating buffets at Disneyland, they have a few different kitchens represented at the parks and hotels – for example, at the Agrabah Café you’ll find a middle-eastern buffet. The cost, per person and night booked is 27£ for adults (half board), 19£ for children (half board), 42£ for adults (full board) and 28£ for children (full board).

For those who’re looking for a few more options, and don’t want to limit themselves to buffets during their stay, there’s the Plus meal plan. The list of available restaurants goes up to over 15 here and includes table service restaurants. Cast members working at the restaurant will tell you what dishes are yours to choose from, since the meal plan operates on a set menu premise. À la carte is not included in the price. I had the half board Plus Meal Plan when I visited and I enjoyed it, it was a perfect mix of restaurants and I even managed to reserve a place at Mickey’s Café, where Mickey and his friends does meet and greets during dinner service. In my opinion, this meal plan is perfect, especially the half board, for the reason I explained earlier in this blog post. It was very enjoyable to have plans for the morning and evening meal and then just go where I fancied for lunch, without being bound to a particular restaurant reservation. As with the standard meal plan one soft drink is included in the price (one per person and meal plan), any additional drinks must be paid for directly to your server (cast member). Prices are a bit higher for this plan: 38£ for adults (half board), 25£ for children (half board), 53£ for adults (full board) and 34£ for children on full board.

Should you want the full food experience while you’re in the parks, go for the Premium meal plan! Here you can pick and choose from the full range of restaurants and even the ones with Disney character interactions and the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West dinner show. Just like the others you can pick either half board or full board and one soft drink is included in every meal plan, for each meal (lunch and dinner). Prices are 62£ per adult (half board), 42£ per child (half board), 88£ per adult (full board) and 56£ per child on full board.

The best way to enjoy the food on offer at the parks on a meal plan is planning, planning, planning and then plan some more. Breakfast and dinner are the best meals to plan in advance and book any restaurants you most wish to visit during your stay. During lunchtime you’re generally in the park in the middle of having fun and might not want to be tied up to a place which might be at the other side of where you’re at. Whether or not you’re on a full board or half board plan – get yourself to a restaurant that’s close by, and that you’d like to eat at and is part of any meal plan (for those of you who’re on the full plan) and have a meal. Or plan ahead to make sure you’re close to the lunch restaurant you’d like to eat lunch at when you’re hungry. Like I’ve stated before, the popular restaurant who accept advance bookings will fill up quickly – book them if you’re sure that you’d like to eat there!

Tips & recommendations

  • Be on the look for free meal plans on Disneyland Paris website, it’s a very common offer to receive free half board for your stay. It can be worth a good amount of money, I saved close to 200€ on food by opting for a free half board. Be sure to read any terms and conditions to see if you qualify – it’s a great offer, should you be eligible!
  • Always, always, always reserve a table at popular restaurants well in advance, or at the places you really don’t want to miss. Tables at places like Mickey’s Café are extremely attractive, due to the character interactions going on there and forgetting to reserve can lead to a full restaurant and tears from your young ones (or yourself). Reserve as early as you can to, hopefully, guarantee your spot at your first hand options.
  • You can call the dining reservations up to 60 days before your arrival to book a table. Call +33 1 60 30 40 50 to make a reservations, or go straight to your receptionist or concierge at your arrival to book a table.
  • Disneyland Paris official website is disneylandparis.co.uk and they always list what restaurants, snack bars and bars that are undergoing refurbishment at the moment – check it regularly before your trip to avoid disappointment onsite.
  • One soft drink (nonalcoholic beverage such as soda, still or sparkling water and fruit juice) is included at lunch and/or dinner, per meal plan. Any more drinks you wish to drink must be purchased and paid for to your server or cashier. Choose the largest size allowed if you’re thirsty!
  • Always use the plans to the max and eat all your meals. Otherwise you’re going to lose money since you’re paying twice for a meal.

Guide to Disneyland Paris

I’ve genuinely fallen in love with Disneyland Paris after visiting it last year, but I was a beginner and afterwards I wished I had known more than I do now about the parks and how they work. If I had then I would’ve got more out of my holiday than I did. Therefore, I decided to write a few posts with tips, tricks and advice to how you can make your stay as magical as possible for you and your whole family, or group of friends.

In this series I’ll be posting about; how to travel there, hotels, eating, the parade and so much more, so stay tuned. The website can be quite confusing, especially if you’re new to it and don’t know how to work it to your favour. I will only touch on topics, so if you’ve got further questions – contact Disneyland via their website or on Twitter, they’re usually very responsive to future guests’ questions.

Disneyland Paris is truly a magical place and definitely worth a visit, no matter if you’re going there alone, with friends or with your family. In my opinion you never become too old to love Disney and even adults can have loads of fun at the parks.

So, please stay tuned – next week there’ll be a new post!