Which Disneyland Hotel is Right for You?

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The Paradise Pier Hotel

Deciding on which Disneyland Resort Hotel to book is not quite as mind-boggling as trying to decide on a Walt Disney World Hotel. After all, there are only three Disney owned and operated hotels in the Disneyland Resort. (Not for long, though, as Disney just announced a fourth hotel for the West Coast some time in 2021!)

It can still be a tricky decision, though, especially if you live far away and have never been to the area. And the truth is, the answer will not be the same for everyone! Depending on your budget, the makeup of your travelling party, and your travel style, you might have a very different choice from someone else.

Here are my recommendations for which hotel might be right for you!

IF: Luxury is important to you, it’s a romantic getaway, and/or you want to pull out all the stops

YOUR HOTEL: The Grand Californian.

Room view

An incredible view from the Grand Californian

The Grand is (so far) the only Disneyland owned and operated hotel that Disney designed from the ground up. It is designed in the Arts and Crafts style, and it’s spacious lobby will be sure to thrill lovers of the Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World. The grounds are also beautiful, and makes you feel miles away from downtown Anaheim. The hotel features an exclusive entrance into California Adventure only for guests of the three Disneyland resort hotels. It is a stunning hotel, with breathtaking architecture and lovely attention to detail. It is also the most expensive of three on-site hotels (although none of them fall into the “moderate” category).

One drawback to this hotel is the room size. A standard guest room is 353 square feet. This might feel too small for families, and for those already shocked by the high price tag.

The views from those rooms, however, can be outstanding. I’ve stayed at this hotel twice. Our first stay, although we booked and paid for a standard view, not a theme park view, we wound up sitting on our balcony in the mornings drinking our coffee and watching the rides in California Adventure start up for the day! Our second stay we had a view of the monorail.

This hotel features the flagship restaurant of the Disneyland Resort, Napa Rose. This award winning restaurant is more of a destination than just a place to grab dinner. Think of it as the West Coast’s version of Victoria and Albert’s – fabulous fine dining, with a relaxed California vibe and more casual dress code. Children are welcome at this restaurant, although the ambiance might be lost of them.


A detail at the Storytellers Cafe

The Storytellers Café is the hotel’s casual restaurant, and features outstanding dinners and a character breakfast. Whitewater Snacks is the grab and go location, convenient to the pool. Hearthstone Lounge offers drinks and light breakfast fare in the morning.

Pinocchio’s Workshop, a child care center, is on site, and is available to guests of any of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels. A health club and spa are great perks for grown ups.

The hotel’s gift shop is small, but Downtown Disney is literally steps away.

If you’re concerned about budget this is simply not a good choice. And if you have little ones in your party, much of the ambiance and sophistication of this resort hotel will be lost on them.


IF: You’re traveling with children, this is a once in a lifetime trip, or you want to be completely immersed in the atmosphere of Disneyland Park

YOUR HOTEL: The Disneyland Hotel.


The Disneyland Hotel entrance from Downtown Disney

The Disneyland Hotel was the first hotel on Disney property. It was originally not owned by Disney, and may seem unusual to Walt Disney World regulars because of it’s high rise tower set up. However, when the hotel was finally purchased by Disney, they let their Imagineers go wild to make every corner of this place ooze Disney.

The magic begins at check in, located in the Fantasy Tower, where it’s not uncommon to find Goofy in the lobby greeting guests. While one person gets in line to check in, the rest of the family can wait in chairs resembling the tea cups from the Mad Tea Party attraction. Artwork depicting it’s a small world and an animated map of Disneyland Park on opening day decorate the walls.


The Frontier Tower at the Disneyland Hotel

Rooms are located in one of three towers – the aforementioned Fantasy Tower, Adventure Tower, and Frontier Tower. In the Adventure Tower, maquettes of figures from the Jungle Cruise adorn the entryway. In the Frontier Tower, there is an impressive model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.


Lamp in a room at the Disneyland Hotel

The room size varies from 364 – 416 square feet, which makes it comfortable for families of four. Views here can vary from the city of Anaheim, to Downtown Disney, to the hotel’s gorgeous courtyard. (We’ve gotten all three of those views, each time paying for a standard view.)

There are many dining locations here. Tangaroa Terrace is a fun, Tiki themed quick service spot. The Coffee House is a small grab and go location that is convenient to the pool. Goofy’s Kitchen offers character meals all day with a huge and varied buffet.


Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel

Steakhouse 55 is the hotel’s signature restaurant, and is outstanding. Black and white photos of celebrities from the 1950’s decorate the space, and service is excellent.

The most popular drinking hole in all of Disneyland is located at this hotel: Trader Sam’s. Fans of the uber-popular Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto in the Polynesian Resort will do well to note that Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s is much smaller. Just like it’s East Coast cousin, this place is packed on the weekends.

There are three pools here – the Monorail pool with it’s two slides and mini-slides for kids, the D ticket pool, and the E ticket pool. There are also two hot tubs – Mickey’s and Minnie’s.

Two shops are located here, in the Fantasy Tower: Small World Gifts and Sundries is smaller than the Fantasia Shop. And don’t forget, Downtown Disney is a short stroll away, as is the monorail to Disneyland Park.

This Hotel is bright, cheerful, and full of energy – Disney music plays in the lobby and common areas of each tower. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, the ambiance of this hotel might not be right for you.

IF: You want the perks associated with staying onsite for the smallest price tag, you have a large family, or you want to be a little more removed from the bustle

YOUR HOTEL: The Paradise Pier Hotel


The Paradise Pier Hotel

Like the Disneyland Hotel, the Paradise Pier Hotel was not built by Disney, and has gone through several name changes through the years. When California Adventure rose up on the site of the former Disneyland parking lot, the Paradise Pier Hotel got it’s current name and theme.

This hotel is also a high rise, and features a fun rooftop pool with slide called California Streamin’. You can view the Disneyland Park fireworks from the pool deck, and the hotel pipes in the soundtrack. The hotel is themed to the Paradise Pier section of California Adventure. A fun sculpture of Goofy holding a surfboard is on display in the small lobby.

This is the least expensive of all three of the Disneyland Resort Hotels (although it’s still not cheap) and makes sense for a family that wants to take advantage of Early Entry without breaking the bank. It’s further away from Downtown Disney and the theme parks than the other two hotels, although it’s still only a ten minute walk to the parks.

The rooms average 364 square feet, and some rooms offer a sofa bed, which makes it the best bet for larger families. Views vary from the parking lot to staggeringly gorgeous views of California Adventure. (Once again, we’ve gotten both views – both times when we paid for a standard view.) If you’re lucky enough to get a view into the park, you can pipe in the music for World of Color from your hotel’s TV and watch the show from the comfort of our room. (Of course, the night we wanted to do that, the show was canceled because of high winds. Bad luck.)

There are two dining locations here. The PCH Grill serves pizzas from a wood fire oven for dinner and a lively beach themed character breakfast in the morning. This breakfast features a bountiful buffet.


There is a small lobby bar called Surfside Lounge which features coffee, drinks, and grab and go selections for breakfast. There is also a poolside bar.

Mickey’s in Paradise is a small but well stocked gift shop. It’s a short stroll to Downtown Disney if you feel like Mickey hasn’t gotten enough of your money yet.

Romance is not in abundance at this resort, and the theming isn’t quite up to the level of the Disneyland Hotel. If you’re looking for grand sophistication or over the top Disney, this might not be the best choice for you.

Regardless of which you choose, all three official Disneyland owned and operated hotels offer something special. They all feature top notch Disney service, good proximity to the action, and Early Entry. I hope this article has helped you to determine which would be the best for your trip.

Which Disneyland hotel is most appealing to you and why? Share in the comments.

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