You are never too young to start making magical memories at Disneyland Paris, and pre-school children are the perfect age for a first visit. One huge benefit of travelling with younger children is that you can visit outside of school holidays, avoiding the queues and crowds.
Disneyland Paris is the ideal place to introduce young children to theme parks as it's designed to be enjoyed by all ages with plenty of child-friendly rides, restaurants and free entertainment, plus the chance to meet their favourite characters.
To help you get the best out of your Disneyland Paris experience, we have put together 10 helpful tips to ensure the trip goes smoothly.
1. Get the fun started on the journey
The trip to Disneyland Paris is just under three hours by Eurostar train from London St Pancras. This is a manageable journey and you can make it part of the fun by packing toys, colouring books, snacks and, if you have one, a tablet computer preloaded with child-friendly games.
For very young children there are also baby change and bottle warming facilities available. If you are staying in a Disney hotel you can arrange for your luggage to be delivered via Disney Express direct to your accommodation, so you can go straight to the park. There are plenty of friendly staff on hand to help out with the bulky luggage associated with travelling with children.
2. Book yourself into a Disney hotel
While there is a wide choice of accommodation in and around Disneyland Paris, you will get certain perks if you choose to stay in one of the seven Disney hotels. Firstly most are within walking distance of the parks, or you can hop on the free shuttle bus. You also get Extra Magic Hours with priority entrance to the parks from 8am – two hours before the general public get in – perfect for early rising small children.
Another bonus is that the hotels host character meet and greets, so you can check the schedule and arrange to have photos taken with your child's favourites at your hotel.
All the hotels are child friendly, with characters to meet, staff who greet children with personalised name badges, plus play areas and pools, which are ideal if you fancy some downtime away from the parks without the kids getting bored.
3. Get some wheels
A day at the park can be tiring for small children so you might want to bring or hire a buggy for €12 (£9). It's worth having a buggy for under-5s even if your children doesn't normally need one as there is a lot of walking involved, and it also provides somewhere they can snatch a nap.
4. Be prepared
Pack a bag that covers all eventualities, so have a towel and change of clothes in case you get wet on a ride, sunscreen if it's hot and rain jackets and umbrellas if it's wet. A plentiful supply of favourite snacks also goes down well.
For those travelling with babies both Disneyland Paris parks have Baby Care Centres which provide an oasis of peace to feed, heat up baby food and change nappies.
5. Plan your visit
Look at the park plans and height restrictions on rides so you can plan a trip that will take in all the best children's rides. Favourites include It's a Small World and Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland at the Disneyland park and Nemo-themed 'Crush's Coaster' in Walt Disney Studios Park.
6. Skipping the queue
Fastpass free priority entrance system allows you book a time slot to ride in advance, then turn up and get on without queuing. While most of the rides that operate this system aren't suitable for little children, a few of the more popular ones like Peter Pan's Flight and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast do. Remember to book your Fastpass slot as soon as you arrive, so you don't end up missing out or having a slot that is too late in the day.
7. Get some grown up thrills
Some of the rides are not suitable for young children, but that doesn't mean parents have to miss out. Instead ask about the Baby Switch service. This allows one adult to queue up to ride, while the other stays with the children in a waiting area, once the first adult has been on the ride, they can switch places with the waiting parent and allow them to have a go without queuing.
However, it's worth checking height restrictions as you might be surprised how many rides you can enjoy with young children, as height restrictions for Thunder Mountain, Crush's Coaster and The Tower of Terror are all just 1.02m. Though do exercise some caution if your child is easily scared, even if they do meet height requirements.
8. There's more to Disney than just attractions
The parades and night time light show, Disney Dreams!, can be amongst the most magical experiences of your visit. Daytime parades run at specific times through the day and involve wonderfully decorated floats carrying favourite characters waving to the children.
Make sure you get to a viewing point in good time to get the best view. Although one savvy tip is to do the rides during parades if you have already seen one as the queues shrink while everyone else is watching.
The nighttime show, Disney Dreams!, is a breathtaking extravaganza of lasers, light shows and fireworks against the backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle. If you are visiting for a few days it's well worth seeing the parade after a quiet day at the hotel and a good afternoon nap, so little ones aren't too tired to enjoy it.
9. Shop sensibly
There are plenty of chances to pick up a souvenir of your stay, but if you want to avoid busy times shop earlier in the day and then take advantage of the shopping service that can deliver your purchase either to a Disney hotel shop or the main Disney Store in Disney Village, so you don't have to carry them around with you all day.
10. Eating and drinking
There are a whole host of restaurants, cafes and quick service outlets in and around Disneyland Paris that cater to all tastes, but to make a meal really special book in for a Character Dining experience. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner with your favourite characters at selected restaurants in the parks.
For an evening meal you could visit one of the restaurants in Disney Village, where there is also free street entertainment, which is always a hit with the kids. Opt for a Disney Meal Plan and you will get vouchers to exchange for meals at a range of Disney restaurants, with a saving of 10% off standard prices.