When it comes to the best places to stay at Disneyland, often the Disneyland Hotel comes to mind. The oldest hotel in any Disney park, it’s been a mainstay for decades and is still regarded as one of the best spots to spend a visit. That’s especially true for first-timers and families who can enjoy the ambiance and the closeness to the parks. So why should you stay at the Disneyland hotels, and why are there a few setbacks for it? Find out here!
Opened in 1955 as a motor inn by the brand-new Disneyland, the Disneyland Hotel operated under Walt’s supervision. It expanded in 1959 as the Monorail extended to it from the parks and, over the decades, became an iconic part of the parks. In 1988, Disney finally acquired it, and, over the years, has done a lot of work expanding it. Interestingly it was downsized in 1999 when Disney began construction on California Adventure, and in fact, none of the original hotel is standing but still retains popularity.
Today, the Hotel has three main buildings, each themed to a different Disneyland section: Fantasy (which houses the main lobby/gift shop), Frontier, and Adventure. Each has some notable items in the lobby (Frontier housing a huge model of Big Thunder Mountain), and a new tower for Disney Vacation Club members will be ready by the end of 2023.
So why would guests enjoy seeing the Disneyland Hotel or not?
It’s hard to find a spot better for Disneyland visitors than the Disneyland Hotel. It’s less than a five-minute walk to the Downtown Disney area with its scores of dining options and access to the Monorail. Guests who feel hardy enough can also walk right to the front gates of either the Magic Kingdom or California Adventure. Plus, like the other Disneyland Resorts, there’s an early entry for both parks so guests can get a jump on the day. For that closeness alone, the Disneyland Hotel is a must for those who don’t want to wait to start their Disneyland adventure.
Yes, it’s not the original hotel frame, but the Disneyland Hotel still pays homage to its past. The walls of the Magic Tower and the nearby Convention Center are covered with photo collages of the past, often Walt with the scores of celebrities who visited Disneyland. There’s also a look at the Hotel itself or some Disney attractions. It just feels as if you’re walking through Disneyland history coming through the hotel, an experience no other resort can touch.
A great pool area
Being able to walk back to the Disneyland Hotel in the afternoon is good, but even better is the pool area. It’s two pools separated, with the big one being a set of four waterslides of varying heights, all designed like the Monorail. That’s a great experience for both kids and adults going down these fun slides. The two whirlpools and the cabanas by the pool can be good too. To top it off, movies will be shown at a big screen on certain nights. Whether going down the slides or just chilling poolside, this is one of the best places in Anaheim.
The Room's Magic
The room designs pop even better as the Hotel used the pandemic downtime to refresh the rooms. The standard ones come with headboard carved with some sights from the parks like Sleeping Beauty's castle. There's also the "light-up" fireworks on the wall and a variety of portraits of Walt and the parks. The suites have touches from pull-out beds to some specially designed like lands of the park to ensure a stay here is unlike any standard hotel room.
There are few things more annoying for guests than having to lug bags of souvenirs (especially big or fragile ones) around a park and handling them on rides. Thankfully, guests of Disneyland Hotel (and its fellow resorts) allow the option of having the gifts shipped right from the shops to the hotel. So go ahead and buy that giant boxy Lego Castle set, have it handled, and by the time you get back to your hotel, it’ll be waiting at the front desk or even your room. That’s a great bonus for guests to make a stay at this Hotel even better.
The best character breakfast
There are a lot of good character meals at Disneyland. But the special ones at Goofy’s Kitchen are in a class by themselves. It’s fun seeing the characters dressed in chef’s outfits and always ready to entertain guests. That they come alongside a terrific brunch or dinner buffet makes it better. It’s a special cost, but for guests whose kids love meeting Goofy, Mickey, Donald, and the rest, this makes the Disneyland Hotel a must.
Obviously, an on-site Disney resort is going to cost a lot more than staying off-property. While it’s not as expensive as the Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel will still set folks back a pretty penny. A standard view starts at $459 a night and can be higher depending on views. The club experience ones run in the $600 range, and the suites can go over a thousand dollars. So while it may be worth it on the vacation side, the Disneyland Hotel is also an expensive stay.
Low Dining Options
Goofy’s Kitchen is great for character buffets but not a regular meal. The only other dining option at the Disneyland Hotel is the Tangaroa Terrace, which is a nice spot for drinks and burgers, but aside from a coffee spot, there’s not much else to go for eats. True, it’s a short walk to Downtown Disney, and room service offers a decent menu, but fine dining isn’t the Disneyland Hotel’s strong point.
Rooms Can Be Sparse For Food
If you enjoy making your own meal in a hotel room, you’re out of luck at the Disneyland Hotel. Even the upscale suites don’t have more than a mini-fridge and a coffee maker. It’s clearly a move by Disney to ensure guests have to spend cash dining nearby, which is annoying to those who like making a quick meal themselves. So aside from snacks, the only way to get a meal at the Hotel is one of the restaurants on the property.
A lot of Crowds
As a hotel that caters the most to kids and pre-teens, the Disneyland Hotel can be pretty busy for families. Maybe too busy for some guests to take. That’s especially true on weekends or holiday events with people coming and going from the parks. The pool can be packed on a hot California day, and that can affect getting a meal too. Thus, guests have to be used to some notable crowd control when attending this hotel.
It’s a bit of a surprise to some guests, but no Disneyland hotel allows pets on property. Granted, not that many visitors will actually take their pet along with them on vacation, but even assisting pets for visually impaired guests is banned. It looks like the only dogs Disney will allow are of the cartoon variety.
So is the Disneyland Hotel worth it? Yes, it can be expensive, and the food options are more limited than a resort that size should have. However, the nearness to the parks can’t be beaten, and the hotel has a lot of history to it. The pool area is one of the best in Anaheim, the Terrace can offer some good dining views, and the characters can pop up to boot. For first-time guests, it’s the way to go, but anyone who wants to enjoy their Disneyland visit to the fullest should consider the Disneyland Hotel as their main stay venue.