This is by far the subject I get asked about most often, and is not an easy question to answer. The best way to book completely depends on the person booking and their needs and wants. I am sure other bloggers might give different advice but I will do my best to give you the information you need to make the best booking possible.
There are several things you need to consider before booking, these are:
Who is going? The vast majority of Disney hotels sleep 4 people with 2 double beds in each room. There are a few family rooms for larger families but these tend to sell out quickly and are more expensive. A family with 4 people plus an under 3 can stay in the normal rooms, and cots are provided for free.
For larger groups or families not wanting to share double beds, I would recommend the Explorers Hotel which can sleep up to 10 people. Last time we stayed in in the Explorers Hotel we had a room for 6 which had a double bed, 2 singles and a side room with bunk beds in. Davy Crockett’s Ranch is a good option for larger families but a car is needed.
When do you want to travel? If you do not have school age children then I would highly recommend booking your stay mid-week during term time. Under 3’s go free at Disneyland but you will often find special offers on for Under 7’s to go free. The summer holidays and October half term are always very busy, as is Easter. If I had to go during school holidays I would probably choose May half term as many of the European school are not on holiday at the same time.
How do you want to travel? I usually travel by Eurostar and therefore the first thing I do is check out the Eurostar prices for the dates I want to travel. If the prices are high then I play around with the dates until I find something suitable. The same theory would work with flying or ferry/channel tunnel crossings.
Your finances – Obviously the nicer hotels are more expensive. You need to think about how much you can afford to spend and what you want from your visit. Some people love to spend time in the hotel and enjoy the facilities while, for others, it is just somewhere to collapse in exhaustion at the end of a long day and isn’t worth paying a fortune for. I have enjoyed trips where we have splashed out on the Club Level rooms in the nicer hotels and I have equally enjoyed trips where we have stayed in budget off-site hotels. Taking lots of drinks and snacks can help keep the costs down.
If you plan to return within a year – The reason I say this is that for regular visitors it can work out much cheaper to purchase an annual pass. These not only give you entry to the parks but also give you a discount in the shops, restaurants, hotel rooms and free wheelchair and pushchair hire (benefits depend on which level of annual pass you chose). Prices start from 189 euros going up to 399 euros for the highest level pass. You get a discount of 20% for families of 5 living in the same house and can get a 10% discount from being sponsored by an existing annual pass holder.
Onsite or offsite – For most people going for a first visit or a special occasion I would probably recommend staying onsite. The benefits to being onsite are that you can access the parks for an hour before they open to the public and you are within walking distance of the parks.
Staying offsite also has some real benefits, the price being the main one. There are a number of offsite hotels ranging from budget options to luxury hotels. These hotels have shuttle buses running every 20 minutes and offer value for money.
Another great value option is Val D’Europe. This is a town with a huge shopping center very close to Disneyland Paris. It is one stop on the train or a short bus ride away and offers lots of self catering holiday apartments to rent. There is also a large supermarket and a variety of restaurants offering a cheaper option than eating at Disney.
Do you want a meal plan? If you definitely want a meal plan then you need to be staying in a Disney hotel as you cannot but them when staying offsite. There are benefits to having a meal plan but they are not cheap. I like to have a meal plan where possible because you do not have to worry about money while you are there, however, you are limited to the places you can eat and they don’t always work out value for money if you would have preferred to eat at counter service restaurants some of the time.
HOW TO BOOK
Some people prefer the security and ease of booking with a travel agent, however, I always find this way much more expensive. I always book everything myself separately. If you do it this way please ensure you have adequate travel insurance to cover any problems that may arise.
Once I have priced up my trip I book my travel first and then my hotel straight after. I learn this the hard way after booking my hotel first one time, and then going to book Eurostar and the last seat had just sold, meaning I had to change everything. With Eurostar, I always book online on their own website, this means you can log on at anytime and change your seats, carriage etc. I would do the same with flights and channel crossings.
Next I would book my hotel package. If I am booking a Disneyland Paris hotel then I price it up using the website but then book over the phone. If you book online you have to pay in full. If you book over the phone you can pay a deposit and the balance at a later date. Look out for the special offers on the Disneyland Paris website including buy 2 nights get 2 free or the free meal plan is always a good offer.
If I am booking to stay offsite then I would go through all the different hotel sites to find the cheapest. I have booked with Bookings.com, Expedia and Hotels.com but there are plenty to choose from. One great tip is to book your Eurostar and then log onto your booking page, when you log on it usually pops up with a special offer for a discount on hotels using Expedia. This has worked out much cheaper than the normal Expedia price on our last few trips.
If you book to stay offsite you will need to purchase either Annual Passes or tickets. There are lots of different website that you can purchase tickets from and it is worth doing a bit of research to see which is the cheapest. Annual Passes can be bought on arrival.
I hope this is helpful to you. If you need anymore information, I am more than happy to help.
Caroline xTags: booking, chipanddale, disneyland paris, hotel