As some of you may know, our family has a big trip to Europe coming up this summer. It will be our daughter’s first international trip. In fact, none of us have ever been on a trip of this magnitude.With the transportation and lodging all booked, we are starting to plan what we actually want to do when we get there.
We are not cool people who can float with the wind. Without plans, our adventures turn into chaos pretty quickly, and we want to take advantage of any advance discounts. One of the places we’re considering for our trip is Disneyland Paris.
Disney can be the bane of a money saver’s existence. Overpriced admissions, food, drinks, and souvenirs disguised in mouse ears can really trip up a travel budget. It almost makes me wonder why frugal people actually go to Disneyland.
Our Disneyland Experience
We did go to Disneyland California a few years ago. It was halfway through our debt payoff journey. After almost a year of spending as little as possible, we needed a reward. Lest you think we went all crazy with the Pirates of the Caribbean, I can honestly say that this was the first frugal trip we ever took. Most everything was paid in advance with money earned from side hustles or gift cards we already had.
After that trip, I thought we could cross Disney off our list forever. I’d rather sit in a nest of spiders than to go to Disney World in Orlando. We were done with the house of mouse.
Our daughter had just turned 5 before this trip, and now I am starting to realize that she doesn’t remember much of it. Yes, she remembers bits and pieces, but it isn’t the nice happy Disney memory I hoped she would have. Do you have to go to Disney for a happy childhood? No. Do I want her to remember that her mother stood in line for 2 and a half hours to meet Rapunzel? Yes!
Why Would You Go To Disneyland In Paris?
Why not? While we would not fly all the way to France specifically to visit Disneyland, we will have four days in Paris as part of our travel plans. I’m sure there will be lots of this trip that involves things an 8 year old doesn’t particularly enjoy. With the promise of a Disney adventure, I bet we can get her walking 10 miles without a complaint.
Plus, it’s an interesting life experience. People in our area do not go to Europe, at least when they have young kids at home. Whether it’s because of cost, lack of desire, or fear of the unknown, it just doesn’t happen. Our kiddo probably won’t remember fine art sculptures, but I think she would remember this part of the trip for always.
How Much Does Disneyland Paris Cost?
I was pleasantly surprised at the cost to visit Disneyland Paris. Granted the park is much smaller than Walt Disney World, but we only want to spend one day there anyway. For early admission tickets, the cost for two adults and one child is €159 or $189 IF you buy through the European site.
The French site offers three choices in tickets, Mini, Magic, or Super Magic. Mini is for low season and is the cheapest. Magic has more availability but is more expensive. Super Magic has no blackout days and is the most costly. For our dates, the Magic ticket will work. If you go to the US Disney Paris site, the only option is Super Magic tickets! Je suis une touriste americaine stupide! (I am a stupid American tourist)
I can read a little French, but even without speaking a lick of Francais, it’s possible to view the site in English first then change to French or use a program to translate it into English. To buy the tickets on the US site, the cost would have been $258. It pays to do your homework.
If you also compare the price to Disneyland California at $282 or Disney World’s Magic Kingdom at $310, it makes Disneyland Paris the cheapest alternative to revisit the most magical place on earth.
How Much For Food and Transportation?
There is a train from Paris right to the entrance of Disneyland for €7.50 or $8.80 one way, and I believe kids get a discount but I haven’t figured it out just yet.
As for eating, Disney parks forbid outside food and drink, but that rule seems to be loosely enforced. You can’t bring in a gigantic cooler and set up a smorgasbord, but snacks or sandwiches in a backpack seem to be allowed through security. If we don’t eat the rip off food there, it shouldn’t cost more to eat at Disneyland than anywhere else.
What We Won’t Be Doing So We Can Afford Disneyland
We’ve decided to avoid some of the major tourist attractions on this trip. While it might seem like sacrilege to go to Paris and skip the Louvre, we just aren’t that artistic. I grew up in Kentucky, where fine art meant having a life size Kentucky Wildcat painted on your bedroom wall. I don’t want to waste my day fighting crowds to get a glimpse of Mona Lisa. We’ll go to a museum, just probably not that one.
We also probably won’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower or ride the London Eye. Just viewing them from the ground is enough.
The other thing we won’t be doing is taking taxis. Just by walking and using public transportation, we can save enough to buy Disney tickets. I won’t hesitate to hail a cab if we get hopelessly lost and are in danger of a meltdown, but the plan is to get around on the cheap. Taxis scare the crap out of me in the US, so I can’t imagine how crazy they must be in major European cities.
Nothing is set in stone, but if we are frugal about most days, we can splurge for one at Disneyland.
Why Do Frugal People Go To Disneyland?
For the experience. Like it or not, if you have a young child, the place they probably want to go the most in the world is Disney. I never got the chance when I was a kid, so maybe I’m living vicariously through my daughter.
I know people can rationalize spending for just about anything, but I do think it’s good to show kids the reward for making and saving money. We have a regular dialogue in our house about why we don’t spend foolishly so that we can spend on what is important to us. I also think, even at her age, she knows to appreciate things like a trip to Disney, even if she might not really know how lucky she is until much, much later in life!
Can you be frugal and still go to places like Disneyland? Do you think we should spend a day at Disneyland Paris? Are we missing out if we skip the Louvre?
Disneyland Paris Image: Wikipedia Commons