Out of all the resorts and Disney experiences we’ve had, we’ve visited Disneyland Paris the most. In fact, it was my daughter’s first experience of Disney back when she was barely even two years old! At two I was told she was too young to enjoy it, but as you’ll have seen in my article about the best age to take your child to Walt Disney World, the best age is any age and I stand by this.
So what is there for under 3s at Disneyland Paris? Stick around because I’m going to share seven must experiences for your child while they’re still part of the toddler team!
You could argue that Disneyland Paris is a great trial run for a Walt Disney World holiday. Typically from the UK we visit for a shorter length of time. This is due to a few factors. For example, it doesn’t take as long to get there and the parks are smaller. But trust me when I say this, the magic is still there, even on a small scale.
As I mentioned above, back in 2014 I took my two year old daughter. We stayed for three nights at a Disney Hotel and she enjoyed herself so much, that I came home and booked Walt Disney World for the following summer. But we didn’t say goodbye to Disneyland Paris when making that switch. On the contrary. We visited a further fifteen times between 2014 and 2023. We have even had an annual pass each on two occasions. Because while it is smaller, it still packs a punch. And although I said it could be a trial run for a longer Disney trip in the States, Disneyland Paris can be a fantastic holiday in itself.
But why is it so good for younger kids?
Disneyland Paris is particularly great for younger kids for a few reasons. You get there quicker by plane, ferry or Eurostar. Or you can choose to travel in your own car, which is a longer drive but at your own pace. It also means if your child is very young, you can bring everything you need with you. They typically have much cooler weather. The time difference is also only an hour which means you can stick to a routine with your child. Everything is also closer together, even if you stay offsite. Most nearby hotels offer a free shuttle to and from the parks. The Disney hotels themselves you can walk to and from. With it being smaller in general, it’s much better for little legs.
But for me, it’s the level of intimacy that I haven’t found at the US parks. Probably because they are bigger in every sense of the word and can be overwhelming for a first timer, no matter what age they are.
So if you are planning on a Disneyland Paris with your under 3 year old, here are my SEVEN must dos while you’re there;
1. Meet Mickey
Gotta start with the main event, right? Meet the Big Cheese himself. Let’s face it, a bit of a rite of passage for any mini mouseketeer!
Mickey is a great character to start with. He’s so good with kids and if you go when it’s really warm, or really cold, you’ll find the Meet Mickey building in Disneyland Parc fantastic. While you wait there is a big screen showing classic Mickey cartoons to keep your little one busy until it’s your turn. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Meeting Mickey for the first time is a magical moment that many parents will cherish forever. And while your kid won’t remember it at this age, you will. Trust me, it happened and I still have the photo up in my lounge after eight years. You never forget that first meet.
Kids and characters can be hit or miss.
My biggest tip is, don’t force it. Of course it’ll be disappointing if your kid screams blue murder when Mickey asks for a hug, but remember, cast members see it all the time. And yes, my character-focused kid has had her moments. Gaston, Captain Hook, Jafar have all terrified her.. and she wasn’t that keen on Elsa and Mary Poppins in the beginning!
2. Ride the Carousel
For me, the carousel at any Disney Park is a must do. It’s iconic. It’s traditional. And it’s beautiful. It’s also a nice slow ride with soothing music, perfect for little ones. The horses have belts on them to keep your child safe. And if they’re really little they even have a few seats so you can enjoy the ride without being on a horse. The carousel at Disneyland Paris was actually the first ride I took her on and as you can see from her face, she truly lived her best life.
Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris is a fantastic place for small children. While Le Carrousel de Lancelot is my top pick, at two my daughter also loved the teacups, the maze, Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World, Le Pays des Contes de Fées (Storybook Land Boats) and Dumbo. They’re all great rides for under 3s at Disneyland Paris.
3. First Disney Snack
Like with meeting Mickey, having a Disney snack is something all Disney kids should experience. Food just tastes better when it’s at Disney, right?
Over the last few years the snack offering at Disneyland Paris have improved so much. There are now themed cupcakes, Disney waffles, seasonal hot chocolates, shaped cookies and this is amazing. Back in 2014 there wasn’t as much on offer but my daughter enjoyed Disney popcorn, and we all know that stuff just hits differently!
Quick tip, if you’re only looking to buy Disney snacks once or twice on holiday, I highly recommend buying before a period of waiting. Perhaps you have a long queue for a ride to stand in, or maybe you’re staking out a spot for a parade or a show. Eat those snacks while you wait and it makes the whole thing less painful for under 3s at Disneyland Paris. I’ve actually had a whole pizza while waiting on the parade!
4. Watch the Parade
The parade is a MUST at Disneyland Paris and has been since my daughter was two. She loved it then and she loves it now. It’s the one thing that we always do at the park, her love for parades have never wavered from that first watch. And one of the best part of watching the parade with a little one is the fact they can sit in their pushchair to watch. It also a great way to save a parade spot for you and your family.
The current parade at DLP is called Disney Stars on Parade and it’s fantastic for young ones. The music, the colours and even the interaction! It’s one of the best things for under 3s at Disneyland Paris.
5. Watch the Shows
Disneyland Paris have what could be argued as some of the best shows. They have multiple purpose built theatres, two in the Studios and one the in Frontierland and one in Discoveryland in the Disneyland park. They also have a castle stage for seasonal entertainment. Not only do they have all that! But they also have Stitch Live and The Disney Junior Dream Factory in the Studios and PhilharMagic in the main park. So if you’re wanting little legs to take a break, you have a lot to choose from! Let’s start in Disneyland Parc.
Over in Frontierland there is The Chaparral Theatre. It currently houses a spectacular show called The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands. Think of the West End show on a smaller scale. Fantastic live singing and dance that will move you to tears! Another theatre can be found in Discoveryland which is often home to seasonal entertainment.
Then of course Mickey’s PhilharMagic also in Discoveryland. This is a 3D show that follows Donald through some Disney music. It’s a lot of fun with either great shade in the summer or heating during the winter.
The castle stage and plaza in front of the castle are used throughout the year for seasonal entertainment. Nowhere does seasonal entertainment like Disneyland Paris so be sure to check out what is on during your visit.
In the Studios there are two theatres. The one to the right houses Mickey and the Magician and it is truly a magical spectacle that will fill both you and your child with awe. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. It features music from classic and timeless movies combined with some wonderful Disney magic. The theatre fills up fast for every show so it’s worth queuing early for! Starting summer 2023, the theatre to the left is now home to a new Pixar show called “We Belong Together”, I have huge expectations about this given the theatre quality of other shows at Disneyland Paris.
Then there is The Disney Junior Dream Factory. This is perfect for the Under 3s featuring some of Disney Junior’s most popular characters. It’s very cute and aimed at younger children but can still be enjoyed by the young at heart. And right next door is Stitch Live. An interactive show that I think I found much funnier as an adult than I would as a child! This show is shown in French and English, so make sure you pick the right one!
6. Ride Casey Junior (Baby’s First Coaster!)
Children are a lot braver than us adults give them credit for. My kid has surprised me time and time again with her need for speed and this probably started at two years old when she first went on Casey Junior at Disneyland Paris.
The ride has no height restriction although children under one cannot ride. And it’s a lot faster than it looks! I think by three my daughter was riding with her hands in the air! You can’t beat the look of extreme exhilaration on their faces and it’s still a super cute ride. It’s perfect for under 3s at Disneyland Paris!
7. Character Dining
Do you want a great way to meet characters without adding additional queuing? Book a character meal. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know just how much we love character dining. We have to eat anyway, right? So we might as well have some character interaction while we’re at it. My thought process for booking it for our very first trip was that if she wasn’t keen, they don’t have to visit our table, but if she was, it was meeting characters without the queuing. Of course by now you all know the story, she loved it!
While Cafe Mickey where I took my daughter on our first few trips is now closed as part of the renovations happening to the Disney Village over the next few years, there is still Plaza Gardens in Disneyland Parc. If you’re planning on booking breakfast, this is arguably better as it means you can get that coveted empty Main Street USA shot on your way to the restaurant! And for Princess lovers, there is of course Auberge de Cendrillon although my daughter didn’t appreciate the food there until she was a lot older. Plaza Gardens definitely suits the more fussy eaters among us!
So there you have it! Disneyland Paris is the perfect place to take your little one. There is so much for under 3s at Disneyland Paris, this is just my favourite things, but I can assure you there is so much more! They will love every minute in the moment, and you will treasure those memories forever. It’s a win win!