Eurostar: Check in, travel and arrival.
The Eurostar service is, if you live in the Midlands, South or South East of England, the simplest way to arrive at Disney for many guests. However there are some tips and tricks and general info the first time traveller should know.
This article is split into several sections
1) Booking your Eurostar
2) Arriving at the Eurostar Terminals
3) Boarding the train
4) On board
5) Arrival at Disneyland Paris
6) Getting to your hotel
Things to have with you: Passport, Tickets, Booking Confirmation Letter, Pen, drink!
Booking: There are three options to choose from when deciding how to book.
Direct train from London St Pancras calling at Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Lille and Marne La Vallee-Chessy (the name of the station at DLP).
Indirect train changing at Lille to board the TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse – the French high speed train) and arrive at Marne La Vallee-Chessy
Direct train to Paris Gare du Nord then use the RER (Reseau Express Regional – the Paris equivalent of Thameslink)
Most first time travellers will opt for the direct train however this service does not operate every day except in school holidays and busy times of year.
Changing at Lille is straightforward but it is a short stop and you will need to be ready to disembark the Eurostar straightaway with all bags, tickets, and passports. Children if you must. Follow the signs, matching the unique TGV service number with the one on your ticket. Display screens make the change very obvious.
Walk up from the platform into the main station concourse and then you walk along the top until you see the ‘regular’ trains. You need to validate your ticket for the TGV before you get on. There’s a validation machine at the bottom of the escalators before you go to the TGV platform.
On the way back from DLP, go to the station concourse and at the far end of the station is the Eurostar entrance – which stays closed until your train is almost ready to be put on. Going through security and passport there is much smaller than at St Pancras.
Paris requires a little more effort and is often the cheapest. On arrival at Gare Du Nord follow the signs for the RER Ligne D destination Melun or Malesherbs. Disembark at Chatelet Les Halles and follow the signs for RER Ligne A destination Marne La Vallee Chessy. It will take about 45mins to 1 hour to get to DLP and will cost in the region of €10. The ticket office is not easily missed!
Link to the 2016 timetable:
Using your travel agent to book a package is often the quickest and simplest although is frequently more expensive than booking the Eurostar separately from your hotel and park tickets.
To quote Disney “Please note that the Eurostar’s frequency, routes and journey times may be subject to change, so check your travel documents for exact departure times before your trip. On certain dates, only indirect services (Eurostar via Lille) will be available. Seat assignments and group seatings are subject to Eurostar™ availability. We will make every effort to fulfill your seating request, but these cannot be guaranteed.
There are two wheelchair spaces available per train, please mention at time of booking. You can book your Eurostar package up to two days before the beginning of your stay. A £10 fee will apply for any request for sending by post. No tickets / Print@ Home will be sent within 8 days of departure. But you can collect your Eurostar tickets from either the Eurostar self service ticket machines or at Eurostar ticket desk at your departure station.
All timings stated are given for guidance only” Fees are subject to change without notice.
Also, be aware that seat allocations are not guaranteed when booked through a third party such as a travel agent or Disney. They will make every effort to fulfill seat requests but cannot guarantee.
Booking a complete package through Disney. Once again this is the quickest and simplest however it is generally the most expensive.
Booking Eurostar directly either by phone 03432 186 186 or http://www.eurostar.com Tickets usually go on sale 11 to 12 months before travel which is when they are at their cheapest. Keep checking the website!
If booking direct you will receive an email with a link to print your tickets or store them digitally in iphone wallet or equivalent. You will also be able to select your seats when booking directly and subsequently change them if required by logging in to your journey on the Eurostar website.
Read the terms and conditions carefully for cancellation or alteration charges should you need to change your journey.
Selecting your seat.
The Eurostar consists of 18 carriages with 2 buffet cars separating standard from premier class. Premier class provides wider seats, fewer to a carriage and can be significantly quieter. Some seats have power sockets (both european and UK) others do not. A meal is served during the journey.
Standard class coaches 1 and 18 have a “quiet” family section, which have half tables that can be useful if kids on laps. Only the coaches nearest the buffet have power points.
Power points are marked on the train plan when you go to alter your seats online.
The new trains (currently only a third of the fleet) has wifi albeit a bit unreliable.
It is possible to upgrade to Premier Class on the day at your departure station subject to availabiltiy.
Arriving at the Eurostar Terminal
This section will deal with arriving at each Eurostar terminal prior to boarding the Eurostar. The basic principles are the same for each terminal but there are subtle differences. Ensure you arrive NO LATER than 45mins prior to your departure time.
Make sure all your bags are labelled.
Security: Eurostar has airport like security screening and should be treated in the same way. The key difference being there are no restrictions on liquids. Naturally there are some restricted or prohibited items:
Ensure you are organised prior to going through the ticket barriers as there are security scanners immediately afterwards. Fold pushchairs, remove coats, belts, wallets, mobile phones, keys, coins etc. My advice is to place them in a bag before you scan your ticket. This applies to all Eurostar departure stations including when you leave Disneyland Paris to travel home.
All items (including teddy) must go through the scanners. Place them in the tray and put them on the conveyor. Follow the instructions of the security officer and pass through the arch when told. If the alarm sounds, stop and wait for them to search. This will involve a pat down and a pass with a handheld metal detector.
Once done you may collect bags and head to passport control. There are two booths, UK Immigration officers followed by French Immigration. Once they have checked your passport you are clear and can wait for your train.
St Pancras International
The London terminus is very simple to reach by public transport.
There are very expensive carparks nearby but if travelling by car I would recommend using Ebbsfleet or Ashford.
The entrance lies midway down the main lower ground floor concourse and is clearly signposted. Once through security there is a large waiting room with a café/bar a small and overcrowded WH Smith, a Bureau De Change, another café and toilets. There are plenty of shops in the main concourse before passing through security. There are plenty of seats.
Ebbsfleet and Ashford International
The principles are the same as are the facilities. They are very efficient but you don’t have long to get on the train! There is a large, secure multistorey carpark connected by a foot bridge in the case of Ashford.
Ebbsfleet is 5/10 mins from the QE2 bridge, parking can be prepaid, car park D gets a popular vote for price and closeness. If paying when you arrive back, make sure you take your carpark ticket with you as payment machines are located in the station terminal.
Once through security there was a small WH smiths and cafe nero. There was also a little area with a few toys and books for the kids to play with and there was a big window looking down on to the tracks so they can watch the trains come in and out.
You are called to your platform about 5 mins before the train arrives and you then find the section of where your carriage will be. As the train is pulling up Mickey and Donald make an announcement.
Security should be approached the same as above.
Disneyland Paris (Correctly known as Marne La Vallee-Chessy)
Follow the signs to the top floor of the station. If you are using Disney Express (more of which elsewhere) you will need to collect your bags from the team located midway along the corridor. There is little to no seating here and it is a matter of standing and waiting.
Security is the same, but my advice concerning coats, pushchairs etc is even more relevant as there really is very little room. Make sure that you minimise the amount of carrier bags etc.
Once through, you maybe held on the mid level waiting to go down to the train. There are toilets here ( not always open) but nowhere to buy food and drink once you pass through security.
I would recommend you stock up before passing through security.
Paris Gare Du Nord
A similar set up to St Pancras, although the departure gates are located on the first floor near the front of the station. There are shops and toilets in the waiting area and a reasonable amount of seating.
Boarding and on board. Including Disney Express
So, you have booked your tickets, got to the station and made it through security! Now to board.
Listen for announcements and look at the screens to see the correct platform. If you are lucky, Mickey and Donald will do the announcement at first. Which can disappoint those parents who are still trying to keep it a surprise.
Gather your goods and follow directions. Your ticket will tell you carriage and seat number, the waiting room signs will tell you which end is which and the carriage numbers are visible in a LED screen on the train next to the doors and in yellow on the platform.
On boarding you will see luggage racks. Large items can go in the racks at the end of the carriages, pushchairs must be folded and in the racks above your heads. There is room above your heads for a small to medium suitcase or backpack and if you don’t have a pushchair it is considerate to use the overhead racks to allow more room for others.
The internal carriage doors are a real pain in the neck. They close automatically and require a flick of the handle to reopen. Even if you are standing in the door way!
Ebbsfleet and Ashford travellers will need to travel down to the platform and board swiftly. Be organised! Ensure pushchairs are folded ASAP before the train arrives. It is feasible that some luggage racks are full. Don’t leave your suitcases blocking the vestibule on the train, it is frowned upon by the train manager and you will be asked to move it. There are larger racks towards the centre of standard class so you may need to carry your case along the train. Travelling light is good advice.
Having boarded and found a home for your luggage you can join the collective sighs of relief as 100 harassed parents crash into their seats to realise that offspring want this, that and the other immediately. Having a bag dedicated to child entertainment and snacks will make your life easier. The carriages are usually noisy with a million different DVDs playing so headphones are a great idea. There is nothing worse than hearing “Let It Go” all out of sync on a dozen different devices.
Make sure you have an easily accessible drink. It can be thirsty work!
Relax, you have 2 and a half hours of travel. There are buffet cars selling alcohol (you may need it at this point) light refreshments and drinks.
If you have booked Premier Class you will be served a continental breakfast. It isn’t much to eat….
Prior to travelling through the tunnel (no kids, you won’t see any fish unless something has gone VERY badly wrong) yellow doors will close at each end of the carriages. These are fire doors and are easily opened by flicking the handle.
Don’t forget to put clocks, watches etc forward by one hour on the way there and reverse on the way back.
There are toilet and baby change facilities on board although they have been know to get a little whiffy!
If you are staying at one of the Disney Hotels (excluding Davey Crocket Ranch to which you have to drive), you may have included this service in your booking. Disney Express deals with Hotel Check In, Distribution of park tickets and allows your luggage to be taken to your hotel.
During the journey Disney Cast members will pass through the train. You will be given labels to complete. Make sure you have a pen with you. Decide what you will need to keep with you and what can go to the hotel. Make sure your park tickets are with you at all times!
Fix the labels to your suitcase.
Arrival at Disneyland Paris and getting to your hotel.
Yay! You’re here! Not long before arrival you may notice the train passes through (quickly) Charles De Gaulle Airport. This is your cue to get ready. You are pretty close now. Excitedly look out of the right hand side (facing direction of travel) of the train for your first glimpse of Space Mountain.
Tidy up, so many passengers leave a tonne of litter behind, and make sure you have everything with you.
If you are using Disney Express follow the signs all the way to the top floor. It is very easy to find. Welcome to your first Disney queue of the holiday! Before handing over your cases, make sure you have everything you need. Wallet, phone, coats, PARK TICKETS.
The staff are really efficient, look for your hotel sign and hand the cases over. The cast member will give you a portion of the label. Hold onto it, you will need it to reclaim your cases later.
That’s it. Done. Head downstairs, exit the station and go to the parks.
If you haven’t booked Disney Express OR you are not staying at a Disney Hotel you will need to offload your luggage at your hotel first.
Exit the station by the door straight in front of you and you will see the bus stop. This is a horseshoe shaped area with Disney Hotel Shuttles (a very bright yellow) on the closest arm and other hotels on the far side.
They are all signposted. The Near The Magic hotels of Explorers, Kyriad, Magic Circus and Dreamcastle are the first stop you come to near the Disney buses with Aparthotel and L’Elysee being further along.
The bus station is under expansion as of 2017 so check the signage on arrival!
If you need to use the RER to reach your hotel then turn right before the bus station exit and walk towards the other end of the station. You will see a shop in front to your left and the post office. Turn right again and you will see the entrance and ticket office for the RER. At the far end is the Casino Convenience store. (very useful for snacks etc)
All photos (c) Eurostar