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Getting the most out of your Disneyland Paris experience is a science. It's an art as well, sure, but if you want lots of fun rather than sore feet, tears before lunchtime, and a head that spins like a Mad Hatter's Tea Cup, it's definitely a science. Insider tips that save you time and money not only help you make fast friends with Mickey, but keep you from getting taken for the wrong kind of ride.

Timing Tips for Disneyland Paris

Try to go on a weekday during the summer or during the off season. London area residents or visitors can easily schedule a last minute trip using the Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) train service. It's a 2 hour 38 minute direct journey from St. Pancras International.

No matter when you go, arrive at the entrance turnstiles of your chosen park at least 45 minutes before the park opens. If you use the car park factor in 15-20 minutes to walk to the park(s) entrance. Once admitted, experience the most popular rides first, even if it means criss-crossing the park. If the queues are long, use FASTPASS, a reservations system that allows you to go to the front of the queue at an appointed time. Know that some popular attractions like Dumbo in Disneyland Paris Park and Crush's Coaster in Walt Disney Studios Park are not in the FASTPASS system. The only way to experience these without a horrendous wait is to arrive well before park opening and get them under your belt first thing.

Planning Tips for Disneyland Paris

Plan ahead. Know what you want to see and develop an itinerary. In the parks you'll be amazed at the number of families you'll see hunkered over a park map trying to decide what to do next. In the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Paris there are more different sequences for seeing the 21 attractions on their Disneyland Paris Park 1-Day Touring Plan for adults than roughly six times the estimated number of grains of sand on earth. The actual number is 51,090,942,171,709,440,000. It's critical therefore that you plan what you want to see and in which order.

Don't try to cram too much into one day. It's about having fun, not making sure you see absolutely everything. If a nap at the hotel seems better than soldiering through another couple of attractions, listen to your feelings and take the nap. Hit the rides in the morning. Save live entertainment and theatre attractions for the afternoon.

Accommodation Tips for Disneyland Paris

On-site Disneyland Paris hotels are very expensive, but if you can afford it, you'll be eligible to enter Disneyland Paris Park one hour before the general public. There are many lovely and affordable small hotels in the petit villages surrounding Disneyland Paris. If you want to stay in Paris, Disneyland Paris is less than an hour away on the RER train system.

Family Tips for Disneyland Paris

Don't compel a child to ride something that frightens him -- and don't let the siblings call him chicken or lay a guilt trip on him for not going along with the rest of the family. For younger children, start slow with non-threatening attractions and work up to the more daunting stuff. It's easy to lose a child in the parks, especially during parades, outdoor performances, and when children are interacting with the Disney characters.

Make sure younger children have their name, your name, your hotel, and your mobile phone number on their person. Teach them to identify Disney cast members by their name tags and to seek help from them if lost. For older children, designate a very specific spot to regroup if they get separated. Be aware some restrooms have more than one exit, so be mindful that you don't assume you'll meet some of your party at a given point just because it's an exit -- there may be another one.

Money Tips for Disneyland Paris

You can save a bundle by eating breakfast in your room from supplies kept cool in a cooler. Likewise, take a bum pack with snacks to the parks to avoid buying expensive vendor food.

Park Hopper tickets allow you to visit both theme parks on the same day. A great way to use a park Hopper is to tour Walt Disney Studios Park during the day and then hop to Disneyland Paris Park which stays open later. Disney packages offer early entry to Disneyland Paris Park, but are not a good deal for most families unless you plan to visit the theme parks the day of your departure.

To see more ways to save money and time check out the detailed research and methodology that goes into making a guide to Disneyland Paris, view my blog post from last month.

Mark Henshall is the editor of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Paris.