Post by International Military Life Community Manager, Courtney Woodruff
Cinderella grinned down at us from the “Bienvenue” sign, welcoming us to Disneyland® Paris.
“Hi, princess!” Our boys shouted as they waved up at her in excitement. I have to admit, I mirrored the gesture; I was getting to experience the rush of setting foot in a Disney theme park for the first time right along with my two sons.
Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris on a tight military family budget can be a daunting task, but choosing to make a few small sacrifices helped us reap big financial benefits.
Before heading to the French House of Mouse, consider these smart ways to save so you can splurge on the items and experiences highest on your priority list.
Save on …
Admission fees by waiting to purchase tickets at the gate. ForcesDiscount.com offers a generous discount of 50 percent off adult and child two-day park tickets when you present your military ID card at the park entrance. This special deal is valid for one service member and up to four guests.
The cost of food and drinks by bringing your own canteens and snacks. Food and drink prices are notoriously high at theme parks in general, and Disneyland Paris is no exception. Leave a little bit of breathing room in your budget by carrying appetite-curbing nibbles like packages of nuts or whole-wheat crackers in your bags and refilling your own water bottles at fountains around the park. If you’re feeling extra thrifty, pack a lunch and leave it in the trunk of your car until your stomachs start to growl; there’s a picnic area located between the parking lot and the main entrance.
Hotel expenses by staying at a partner hotel. Instead of spending a large chunk of your budget to stay at one of the pricey Disney-themed hotels on-site, consider reserving a room at one of the nearby partner hotels like Algonquin’s Explorers Hotel and Vienna House Dream Castle Hotel. Perks include free shuttles to and from the park, complimentary breakfasts, Disney gift shops and free parking.
Splurge on …
Character dining experiences. If there’s one thing you allow yourself to spend lavishly on this trip, consider letting it be breakfast with Mickey, a gourmet French meal at Cinderella’s royal banquet hall or dinner with a crew of favorite characters at Inventions Victorian restaurant. In my opinion, the steep price is well worth the chance to get up close and personal with beloved Disney characters without having to waste precious time waiting in lines that wrap around the block.
Souvenirs unique to Disneyland Paris. Plan to pinch your pennies in the all-too-tempting shops and boutiques unless you spot an item you truly won’t be able to find anywhere else. Instead, consider the mug featuring a sweet illustration of Mickey and Minnie sharing a smooch beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower.
An excursion to the City of Love and Light. Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, even if you’ve seen it up close a dozen times, a visit to Disneyland Paris just isn’t complete without a jaunt into the French capital. With a train station conveniently located at the park entrance that takes you right to the hustle and bustle of the city center in less than an hour, you can’t pass up the opportunity. Purchase a day pass, and spend an extra morning or afternoon hitting tourist hotspots.
Have you been to Disneyland Paris? How did you choose to save and splurge at the park?
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Courtney Woodruff is a military spouse, mom, writer, editor and web content manager currently living in Germany. She has a heart for our troops and their families and hopes to share what little she has learned along the way to help others overcome the unique challenges of military life. You can follow her adventures at her blog, Courtney At Home, or through her social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.