Disneyland Paris is the most visited tourist destination within Europe and is a place where many travellers from the UK opt to go for a holiday at some time. For Disney fans living in the United Kingdom or mainland Europe; it couldn’t be easier to reach the gates of Disney seeing as the resort holds it’s very own train station called Marne La Vallee Chessy.
From the UK, the international train operator Eurostar runs direct services to Disneyland Paris from St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford International Stations on average three to four times a week. You can view the specific timetable here. The journey time from St Pancras is just under three hours – which is pretty good.
On other dates, you can easily reach Disneyland Paris on the Eurostar with a simple change at Lille-Europe.
Unlike having to check in at the airport around an hour or two before your flight, you need only check-in a minimum of 30-minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your Eurostar service. As much as I love airports, they can be quite boring places, especially if you can only find a mere handful of shops and restaurants. I won’t name and shame, but these airports know who they are!
Another thing I really like about travelling with Eurostar is their generous 2-bag luggage allowance; which means you should have plenty of room for all your Disney souvenirs. If you were flying, you’d probably only have a one-bag allowance or even a fare which didn’t include any checked baggage at all unless you were travelling in Business Class. On the direct Disneyland Paris trains, Eurostar offers a Standard Premier product which is a little bit like Premium Economy. Some of the main benefits of travelling in Standard Premier includes having a light-meal served to you at your seat and comfortable seating in dedicated coaches. On average, a Eurostar train can carry about 750 passengers. If you were to compare that with flying, you’d probably need more than two Boeing 747-400’s to fit everyone on board.
A bit about The Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is certainly an engineering masterpiece and it is impressive to think that since 1994 travellers have been able to reach the continent on a high speed rail network. You are actually only in the tunnel for around 20-minutes going a maximum of 160km/h (99mph). At it’s deepest point, The Channel Tunnel is 75 metres below sea-level. I think when you cross that point it is appropriate to listen to “Under the Sea” no?
On my recent trip to Disneyland Paris I happened to be travelling on dates where the direct Eurostar service wasn’t running. Therefore I booked an option with Eurostar which required one change at Lille-Europe.
I arrived at Ebbsfleet International Station about just under an hour before my train to Lille was scheduled to depart. I like to leave a little extra time whenever I travel to allow for any delays, but thankfully the M23 and M25 were pretty clear that early in the morning.
Checking-in was really simple. All I needed to do was collect my tickets from one of the machines and then scan the barcode on an e-gate. It took a little time to recognise the barcode and let me pass through; but I’m putting the delay due to the system just warming up. 😉
It was then through a small airport-style security channel which was very simple. I’m so used to going through security these days that it would seem as though I go into auto-pilot mode. I always carry any liquids in a small plastic bag – honest!
The departure hall itself is very small. There was only a newsagents and a well-known coffee shop. Seeing as passengers need only check-in 30-minutes prior to departure this wasn’t too bad. Thankfully there were plenty of seats so I could sit down and read a paper.
About 10-minutes prior to departure, an announcement was made asking for customers to make their way down to the platform as the train would be arriving shortly. Right on cue, the train pulled into the station and it was time to board!
Each coach feels fairly spacious and the seating is relatively comfortable. Better than a standard airline seat anyway. You should find at-seat power in the form of a UK or EU power socket – but it can be a little sporadic. On the newer Eurostar trains, free WiFi is also provided. (Photo above). So now you can tweet while you’re in the Channel Tunnel. Although to be frank and honest the wifi hardly worked for me. Thank the lord for inclusive roaming whilst in Europe on my mobile phone contract.
The passenger information screens are quite good as it cycles through various information about your journey in several different languages. It was interesting to know the speed which we were travelling. At one point it was 295 km/h.
Food and Drink
There are two buffet cars on each Eurostar train which offer a variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks and sweets for sale at fairly reasonable prices. Fortunately you can pay in both Sterling and Euros too which is very handy. A 330ml can of Coca-Cola will cost you £1.90/€2.60, it’s £3.90/€5.30 for a Ham and Cheese Sandwich, and £2.20/€3.00 for a Croissant. Fairly reasonable prices I’d say if you were comparing to how much these items would cost on a short-haul flight.
The Eurostar certainly is a great way to visit the continent and especially Disneyland Paris. The fares are reasonable and it couldn’t be a simpler end-to-end experience. In terms of value for money for my trip it wasn’t bad. It actually worked out about 25% cheaper than if I decided to fly to Paris.