Our family traded our Walt Disney World vacation for a Disneyland one because of cost, so we knew that we would have to stay offsite for the first time. For some time, my husband and I had been reading about the Good Neighbor hotels and had read numerous positive reports about the Howard Johnson in Anaheim at 1380 Harbor Boulevard right across Manchester from Mimi’s Cafe, a Disboard favorite. We asked our beloved “The Magic for Less” travel agent to make our reservation for us. The only package availability was for a standard view room, but we asked her to reserve it anyway. I called the Howard Johnson, referred to as the HoJo by many, and asked about the freeway noise that I had been reading about. I was immediately told that I could upgrade to a theme park view for $15 (plus tax) per night more than the package price that I had already paid for. Having read that this was the quieter location, I jumped for the opportunity. Well, it might have been the fact that my daughter was hitting me on the back telling me that I had to take the theme park view. Whatever the reason was, we were going to stare at the Matterhorn from our balcony.
When we checked in, we were given room 1709 on the seventh floor directly across from the Matterhorn and directly above the play area. The play area looked small for the size of the hotel property, but we didn’t actually go down to try it out. We had planned on swimming Tuesday, but Monday night we found a note in our room saying that the play area would be closed the next day. The room was quite large with a microwave and a small refrigerator; conversely, the bathroom was barely large enough to change your mind in. If you look at my picture of the bathroom, the tub is not very far out of the picture across from the toilet. We had a room with two sinks, one in the bathroom and one out of the bathroom. It is my understanding that not all of the rooms are set up this way, though. If you look at my bathroom picture again, look at the cord on the sink on the left. That cord is for the hairdryer that couldn’t really be used after a shower unless you blew the foggy mirror dry with it first. That cord was usually either crimped in the door or lying in the sink. I’m not really sure why the hairdryer wasn’t put on the sink outside of the bathroom so that it was usable. The bathroom was really my one major complaint about the room. Other than that, it was a very spacious and clean room. The beds were very comfortable, and there was plenty of room for all of the items needed for a lengthy trip. If you do end up on the seventh floor, be prepared to be awake early because it is very light on that floor. We didn’t notice the freeway noise in our room, but it was extremely loud in the hall. I can’t imagine having a room facing the freeway!
The customer service that we received was very good except for the housekeeping man who stopped our elevator to vacuum it with us in it. My son with sensory issues was yelling and putting his hands over his ears, but that did not deter this housekeeper from vacuuming the metal strips at 8:30 a.m. By the way, someone was vacuuming the hall outside our room at 8:00 that morning, and the parks didn’t even open until 10:00. The gift shop had lots of small food items and souvenirs to choose from. Some things were reasonably priced, but I thought some of the clothing was priced quite high.
The biggest drawback for the HoJo is location! We live in the country, my son has sensory issues, and Harbor Boulevard is a VERY busy street with lots of buses and vehicles. This combination does not make the walk pleasant! Every night, it felt that we had left our vacation to dodge the loud traffic and the street vendors selling light up toys. The HoJo isn’t really much farther to the park entrance than the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier Hotel, but the atmosphere is different. I’m not talking about the physical atmosphere of the buildings. I’m talking about the atmosphere from the parks to the hotel. When my family goes on vacation, we like to relax. We are not commando park people, and I really think that hotel choice makes or breaks a vacation. Staying at the HoJo made us more commando than we would normally have been. If we were to go back to the hotel for a break, we would probably not have traversed the traffic to go back. The HoJo is really a nice place to stay if you are planning on spending most of your time in the parks. If your goal is to have some down time, too, splurge for an onsite property. With onsite properties, you can spend your time walking slowly through Downtown Disney, listening to the music and smelling the smells of treats, on your way to your room. We ended up changing the last two days of our vacation to an onsite hotel so that we could slow down.
Lesson learned: If we are going to Disneyland to spend every waking moment in the parks, we will stay at the HoJo. If we want a slower pace vacation, we will stay onsite.