Driving from the UK to Disneyland Paris

Hey guys!

Wanted to do something a bit different today than an opinion piece or a review, one thing I always find super useful when I'm planning a trip is looking for other people's experiences to help me plan things, especially when I am trying something new. So that's what I thought I would do today!

Pic credit: @rebeccav1991 instagram with permission!

One thing that I was particularly unsure about doing for the first time, was driving to Disneyland Paris from the UK, and it's also something I've seen people ask a lot of questions about recently, so I decided to share my experience in an attempt to help and reassure you guys. Fingers crossed eh?

So I drove to DLP in November 2017, and that was my first time driving outside of the UK, I had been driving a fair few years at the time, I passed my test in 2010, and I like to think of myself as a fairly confident driver I've done long drives before and use my car to get all over, so I was actually kind of surprised how nervous I was to drive in mainland Europe for the first time. I couldn't tell you what exactly I was so nervous about honestly, possibly just a fear of the unknown, but getting over that fear and actually doing it is something I'm personally really proud of, and I feel it's opened doors for me.

So where do we start? Well first of all you're going to need to decide how to cross the Channel, now I've only driven to DLP once myself and I went by Euro Tunnel, you can check out the availability and prices for the day you want by visiting the Euro tunnel/Le Shuttle website. I found that the earlier mornings and the later evening crossings were generally the cheapest, and this also meant maximum time in the park which is always fine by me! We managed to save as well by doing such a short trip, we only went for the one night and as such were able to qualify for the Day trip ticket type. Other levels of ticket after that are Short stay saver - only for trips of up to 5 days, must be used with a short stay saver return ticket and non refundable, Short stay Flexiplus - again only up to 5 days but allows amendments to the day and time of travel, dedicated check in and executive departure lounge. There is also a Standard and Flexiplus option for stays longer than 5 days, these additional tiers are a higher cost again.

Now the nice thing about Euro Tunnel, is that we were able to use our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to make part payment, and each £10 in vouchers was worth £30 against the crossing, so we made a huge saving doing it this way, the only slight downside to booking with Clubcard vouchers is that you can't book online so you will need to phone them, but that was quick and hassle free, and then I just submitted our passenger info (names of all travellers and passport numbers DOB etc) online afterwards. You get emailed a confirmation to print and take with you, and that's pretty much it.

So you need to be at the Tunnel at least 45 mins before your scheduled departure, though you can turn up up to 2 hours before, so once you know your crossing time the next thing to do is decide how you're getting there/when you need to leave, I live about 3 hours away from the tunnel, and also would need to make a detour in order to pick up the friends I was travelling with. As we had a fairly early crossing we decided the easiest way for us was to travel to Folkestone the day before and get somewhere to stay for the night so we weren't rushing in the morning. We managed to find a great place using the comparison websites and all 5 of us stayed for £55 for the night just a short drive from the tunnel. This worked perfectly for us, it broke the driving up so I wasn't too tired, it was really affordable and was a big relief not to need to do it all in one go.

So once you get to the tunnel check in is super easy, pretty much a case of handing over your booking confirmation and then you get a little hangar to go over your rear view mirror that has your boarding letter. You go through passport control, make sure to have them all open to the right page and without covers on, then you can park up for a while until your boarding letter is called. Both Folkestone and Calais have a departure terminal which is a bit like a service station, it has shops, a few places to eat or just sit and relax and of course toilets etc. Just need to keep an eye/ear out for when it's your turn to board.

Once you're on the train the crossing itself is just 35 mins, you can get out of your car to stretch your legs, and there are toilets on the train, but other than that there's nowhere to go, so it's pretty much a case of sitting back and relaxing for a while. Once the train arrives in Calais everything is sign posted and it is so much easier than I had realised. Now I used a sat nav to get from Calais to DLP and it was pretty much all motorway, the drive took about 3 hours in total and there were plenty of service stations along the way if you needed to fill up or take a break!

Now unfortunately this is the part where I have to apologise for being totally useless, at the time I actually did this, I never really thought about writing about the experience or using it to help others, so when it came to getting from Calais to DLP, I blindly followed my sat nav without paying a whole load of attention to the route we were taking. So sadly I can't tell you which route we took, what I can tell you is it's pretty much entirely motorway, and french motorways are much easier to drive on and much quieter than in the UK.

The route we took was a toll route which was really easy, you took a ticket at one end, then paid by card at the other end. I think we took 2 slightly different routes between going there and coming back but paid around €22 in tolls each way, make sure you budget for this! Petrol wise I used about half a tank on my 1.25L Fiesta going each way, so I topped up at the garage by Santa Fe before we left on the way home, and on the way there we found a garage in Folkestone not far from the tunnel.

Now one of the main things about driving in France compared to the UK is the things you are required to carry in your car by law. Now I hope you never need to use most of this stuff, and are never in a situation where it's being checked, but personally I wouldn't take the risk of not carrying the stuff. Our trip was massively on a budget which is why I drove in the first place, so we looked online to get everything as cheap as possible. There seems to be a lot of confusion over exactly what is needed, so let me try and clear this up, the things you require by law are;

  • A warning triangle - in case you break down you can place it before your vehicle to warn other drives.

  • High Visibility Jackets - These are needed for every passenger in the vehicle, they don't need to be worn but need to be kept within reach!

  • A GB sticker - unless you have the "euro registration plates" which already have the GB initials. We actually got a magnet, which means we can re use it on another car in the future.

  • Spare bulbs - It makes sense really a spare set of bulbs means you can switch yours out roadside - safety first!

  • Headlamp beam deflectors - As you're driving on the wrong side, you need to make sure you're not blinding other drivers! Pro tip, if you get the stick on ones, you are meant to remove the top layer once they're stuck on, we're total wallys and managed to miss this part - whoops!

  • A breathalyser/Alcohol tester - Now this is the one that's a bit contentious, the law still states that you should carry one, however as of January 2013 the fine for not having one was dropped indefinitely.
Now you can grab all of these things off the internet fairly easy and cheaply, or if you want to get it all in one place, a European driving kit from Halfords or similar will have pretty much everything you will need, you may just need to top up the amount of jackets!

Once we got to the park we used the Infinity parking, which is a perk of my annual pass I haven't really used previously, show your pass at the main car park gate and not only will you be let in for free (I believe the day charge for cars is currently €20) you get give a card to display on your dashboard with a code on the back, the Infinity parking zone is the nearest to the parks aside from the disabled parking. To get in there is an automated barrier with a key pad, enter the code from the back of your card to get in, then display the card on your dash for the day once you park up. The code changes every day to stop people sharing the code and it was so nice to be able to park so close, especially on the first day when we arrived mid afternoon.

So that's pretty much all you need to know about driving to DLP, my top tips would be to check you have everything you need for the car, if you live a long way from the tunnel on the UK side break up your trip by staying near by the night before your crossing, and finally don't over think it, it's honestly so much easier than I had let myself believe and made our budget trip possible.

Have you driven before? Is it something you're considering? Is there something you'd like to know that I haven't covered here? Let me know, drop a comment below!

Hoodsie xx


  1. I was trying to convince my partner to drive for our December trip as it would have been a cheaper option than flying but when we looked at the distance it was going to be about 7 hours drive (over 3 hours to get to Folkestone) and then the trip from Calais to Disney so he said no and we're flying instead! If I was able to drive and lived closer to Folkestone I definitely would do it but I get travel sick too so 7 hours in the car would have killed me! Glad it worked for you though, cheaper travel means more money to spend in the parks on merch right? haha!

    Jess xx

  2. We drove to Disneyland Paris a couple of years ago, the only tip I can give is don't loose the key to the car roofbox while trying to pack up on the return jouney! We were crammed in with all the stuff we'd bought all around us! Its one of those things we laugh at now!

  3. We are thinking of staying at Disney's Davy Crocket Ranch followed by a few days at Village Nature next year so driving would be ideal.

    Hopfuly my wife will have passed her test by then so we can share the driving.

  4. Awh that would be awesome! Would be lovely if you could share it too! That would make things so manageable

  5. I can see i must be a bit older than most of you - we've been 10 times since 1993 and driven all but two of those - taking variously 1, 4, 3 , 4 and 3 kids of varying ages with us, its so much easier to take everything they need. French Auto-routes are easy to drive, with plenty of places to pull off , and rarely busy till you get to Paris. My one tip is regardless of what the satnav says, and that might vary depending on where you stay , try to take the A1, A103 , A4 route so you arrive at the park up the straight road that points straight at the park, with the Disneyland hotel in front of you (usually accompanied by "Dad, pleeese can we stay there next time") and the tops of the castle and thunder mountain peeking over the top. Also from the back you realise just how big Newport Bay and Sequoia lodge are. As mentioned , you need a car to sample Davy Crocket , which is the only way you get anything even slightly approaching cheap for a Disney hotel. its well done , as you would expect, but bear in mind you are staying in a static caravan, not a hotel!

  6. Davy Crockett is very high up on my list of things I want to do soon in a Disney Park! I think it looks really cute and now I know I can do the drive it’s a real possibility!

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  7. that sounds horrendous - i make sure both drivers have a key, plus a masterkey-spare in the glove-box - it might not be the height of security , but its better than driving back like you did!

  8. We first did it when my first two were 4 and 1 , plus slightly older nephew and niece . its a way of sharing with lots of kids relatively (in the parallel universe that is Disney pricing) cheaply. we also did it a couple of years ago with the kids at 18 plus, it still works, as its a beautiful setting and the huts have been improved. Ill look out for a review of Villages Nature - all I've seen is a massive muddy hole as we drove past

  9. Looking back now it’s funny, at the time..... think we’ll do that next time and get a spare!

  10. Thank you for this post of driving! !!! I am thinking about driving from York to Disneyland in Octobet and I feel the worst part will be the drive from York to Dovet or Fokestone!! It's just the location of were we live up north!!!! Everything's miles away!! My only concern about driving is that I will end up stopping off to discover France on the way back and spend even more money!!!!! Haha !!