I've never been to Disneyland for shorter than 5 days. That isn't me trying to brag or anything, it's just a fact and when someone asked me what I'd do if I was only on a day trip (or what I'd recommend for people visiting just for the day) I had to really think about it!
If you're not staying in a Disney hotel and therefore don't have extra magical hours, that means you'll only have 12 hours of park time and that's if you are there for opening and stay until close. :O Not long at all. Many people say they manage to do everything in a day trip but I find that pretty hard to believe, so I suggest lots of planning and the points mentioned below to get the most out of your time.
Make Sure You Hit Up Both Parks!
Walt Disney Studios is very underrated if you ask me. It has some truly fantastic attractions in my opinion and with the addition of Ratatouille in 2014, now contains some of my must-do things on a Disney trip.
Although I would probably spend more time in the Disneyland Park, I for sure would make sure to park hop to WDS for at least a couple of hours in the middle of the day. You have to even just take an hour to walk around and see it all if you don't have time to wait on rides.
Head for the Busy Rides while the Parades are on!
Parades are beautiful and magical and fun but aren't for everyone and I'm assuming if you are on a day trip, they aren't what you came for. In that case, use the times when parades are on wisely! Check the info boards or the app if you use your phone on holiday and see how the wait times for rides differ - head for those with a shorter wait than they usually have :)
I tend to find Buzz Lightyear's Lazer Blast and Peter Pan benefit from the parades lessening queues.
Get to Meets early!
If you're a meet and greet kind of person I bet you have a mental list of the characters you'd most like to hug. In that case, check the programme and arrive at the meeting spot as early as you can (Not stupidly early as to waste time you could be doing other stuff of course). Being one of the first in the queue means less waiting time obviously ;)
If you've never met a character before I'd recommend Mickey and Stitch as musts!
If this isn't your first ever visit, head to the rides that are new since your last visit or that were closed. If it is your first time head to the ones you 100% want to do and get those out of the way before doing any others to make sure you fit them in.
I personally always do Phantom Manor first if I'm arriving midday or Dumbo / Le Carrousel de Lancelot if I'm in for extra magical hours!
What would any holiday be without bringing yourself back at least one memento?! Although I suggest leaving this until last and not spending too much of your precious time in the boutiques...no matter how tempting ;) Seriously, I could probably spend a good 10 hours over my 5 day visit just browsing all the goodies so try hard to resist!
If you only get time to visit one store, make it the World of Disney in Disney Village. Not only is the decor itself magical but it has a great range of things to buy, from sweets and treats to artwork, toys and lots more.
So there we have a few quick things I'd recommend for anyone heading to Disneyland Paris on a day trip! I hope they are helpful to someone out there and I'd love to hear what you would suggest if you have already done just a day at Disney. Let me know in the comments ;)