I LOVE Disneyland!!! As a kid we would go multiple times a year when we went to visit my aunt in Manhattan Beach. There is a charm to Disneyland that just doesn’t exist at the ginormous 40 square mile, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. But my schedule in the last few years just has not allowed for the cross country trip so for this post I enlisted the help of a Disneyland hotel expert, my brother Greg.
Greg has been to California every year since he was born and always includes a night or two stay in a Disney resort as a part of his trip.
Disneyland and the California Adventure parks are my favorite Disney properties to visit. Call me weird, I’m okay with that. I still love Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and the Florida experience, but California provides the Disney experience in what I feel is a more convenient and laid back environment (and better weather but that’s really splitting hairs). So where do you stay when you’re there? The Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel, and Paradise Pier all offer their pros and cons.
The Grand Californian is marketed as the premier California hotel, and definitely provides that appearance and wow factor when you walk into the lobby. If you’ve been to Florida, imagine the Grand Floridian but with more of a lodge feel and decor to it without going full Wilderness Lodge. This hotel has a direct entrance to Downtown Disney and the California Adventure park helping skip the lines at the main entrance. This was my parents’ favorite hotel to stay at when out there. Being able to take children via stroller directly into the park was huge for them. The rooms don’t stand out in my memory, and I couldn’t justify the price on my personal budget, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t the hotel for you.
For my wife’s birthday a few years ago, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. This was probably my favorite hotel experience. It is an older hotel, and it does show a bit, but it’s Disney so they are making sure everything is neat and clean, and that you have a great time. When checking in, we were fortunate enough to be upgraded to Concierge level for a small $50 upcharge for all 3 nights (not per night). This hotel is the least likely to fill making this type of opportunity more common than you’d think. The view over Downtown Disney was really nice, and we could see the fireworks from the room. This hotel does the best job at catering to all ages from adult through children. The best example of this is the Trader Sam’s located directly next to the pool. My wife and I certainly enjoyed this perk after a long day in the parks. The Disneyland Hotel is located directly across the street from the Grand Californian requiring only a short 5 minute walk to access the Grand Californian’s park entries (available to all disney hotel guests). For a smaller cost and almost the same convenience, this would be my hotel choice almost every time.
Paradise Pier is on the other side of a parking lot from the Disneyland Hotel. In my opinion, this is probably the most kid friendly hotel. Decorated with bright colors and surf decor, it definitely grabs your attention. The rooms don’t contain much aside from the standard amenities, but it is the most budget friendly hotel. That said, availability disappears fast. I didn’t get to check out the pool when I was here but the slides looked like a kid’s dream. This was also probably my favorite breakfast experience of the 3 hotels, but that might just be because Stitch is one of my favorite disney characters (you really can’t go wrong with Mickey Waffles). Again, this hotel is a short walk from the Grand Californian (maybe 10 minutes) and you can take advantage of those park entrances.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these options. With the close proximity of everything in the California properties the convenience is unmatched. With new attractions like the Incredicoaster, Galaxy’s Edge, and Avenger’s Campus, we’re very excited to get back there in the coming years! I hope my opinions and insight help you plan your perfect disney escape! Thank you for reading!
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