Planning a Disneyland trip?
We wanted to make our most recent Disneyland trip extra special by staying at the Disneyland Hotel. I had stayed there once when I was a kid, and this was a first for my husband and kids.
We've spent a night in Disney's Grand Californian here and there when I was invited to Disneyland press trips. That hotel is pretty great, so we had high expectations for the Disneyland Hotel.
Does the Disneyland Hotel live up to the hype? Here's our experience, plus tips for making the most of your visit.
The Disneyland Hotel is located about 10 minutes' walk from the entrances to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. It's an easy and fun walk through Downtown Disney. However, we were already walking 5-7 miles a day in the park, so the extra half-mile walk to and from the hotel felt long sometimes.
It's definitely convenient, but Disney's Grand Californian and a few off-property hotels are even closer to the gates.
The Downtown Disney Monorail station is a 2-minute walk from the Disneyland Hotel – just inside the security zone. It will take you to Tomorrowland inside Disneyland.
The Monorail seemed great in theory, but we only used it twice in 5 days. We couldn't use it before the park opened or when we visited California Adventure. It always closed early during our visit, and the wait was often longer than the 10 minutes it took to walk to/from the park.
Staying at the Disneyland Hotel offers several benefits inside Disneyland and California Adventure.
Early entry to the parks is the biggest benefit. Guests of Disneyland Resort Hotels are eligible for Extra Magic Hours, which allow you to enter either Disneyland or California Adventure an hour before the general public every day. This is the very best time to enjoy popular rides without long lines! Check the Disneyland calendar to see the Extra Magic Hours schedule during your visit.
Here's what we accomplished at California Adventure during our Extra Magic Hour.
- Arrive 15-30 minutes before Extra Magic Hour begins.
- Walk to Radiator Springs Racers. Don't ride. Just get a FASTPASS, which will probably be for 5-10 minutes after the park opens to all.
- Walk to Pixar Pier.
- Ride Toy Story Midway Mania! twice with no wait.
- Ride Incredicoaster twice with no wait.
- Walk back to Radiator Springs Racers about 15 minutes before the park officially opens. We found that all the Extra Magic Hour guests had already moved on, so there was no line at all.
- The park will probably open during your ride. Use your FASTPASS to ride a second time with no wait.
- Walk to Guardians of the Galaxy ride. This line moves fast, so wait times should be short. Get a FASTPASS for later or head for Soarin'.
- You've beat the longest lines in the park and can now enjoy shorter lines for other rides. Do Soarin' next, either Standby or FASTPASS.
You'll have the option to link your room key to your credit card and use it to make purchases at the hotel or in the parks. My kids don't have credit cards and I didn't want them to carry cash around the parks. This was an easy way for them to buy snacks or souvenirs without my having to wait in line with them.
You can have souvenirs delivered directly to your room that you purchase in the parks or Downtown Disney when you stay at the Disneyland Hotel or other Disneyland Resort Hotels.
I had high expectations of the Disneyland Hotel, but was still pleasantly surprised by our standard room. We are a family of four with older kids (ages 12 and 15), and six nights in one hotel room can feel pretty tight. I wouldn't call our room huge, but it was comfortable for our family.
In addition to two queen-size beds, our room had a couch that converted to a single bed without taking any extra floor space. It was perfect for my 12-year-old son who would usually rather sleep on the floor than share a bed.
Our room had a mini-fridge and a little counter space for groceries. It did not have a freezer or microwave. Public microwaves are available on the first floors of the Adventure and Frontier Towers.
I signed up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh, and that worked well for grocery delivery. We saved a lot of money by eating 1-2 meals per day, plus snacks from our groceries. It was easy to cancel the service when we returned home. Other grocery delivery options are available as well.
We did not pay extra for a room with a view, but were delighted to find that we could see the Disneyland fireworks from our huge window. We loved the delightful Disney decor and all the Hidden Mickeys in our room.
The Disneyland Hotel has a large, beautiful pool area. The centerpiece is the retro Monorail water slide.
The weather was warm and sunny during our October trip and we loved relaxing in the padded lounge chairs when we weren't in the parks. Be sure to include some pool time in your Disneyland itinerary if you book the Disneyland hotel.
If your room isn't quite ready when you check in, get your swimsuits and check your bags at the Bell Desk. The front desk will give you your room/pool key as soon as you arrive. There is a bathroom at the pool where you can change and get to enjoying the pool right away.
The Disneyland Hotel has several on-site dining options in addition to all of the restaurants just outside the hotel in Downtown Disney.
We chose the casual Tangeroa Terrace for lunch just after we checked in. The menu included options my whole picky family could enjoy, including hamburgers, vegetarian and Polynesian-themed fare. It felt great to relax and enjoy our meal at an outdoor table with a view of the hotel and pool.
Love Dole Whip? You'll find it and many other tropical concoctions – with and without alcohol – at the Tiki Bar next to Tangeroa Terrace.
Goofy's Kitchen is a buffet restaurant where Disney characters mingle with guests. Be sure to get reservations. It's easy with the official Disneyland app. Reservations were available less than 24 hours in advance during our visit, but book as early as you can for best availability.
You'll also find a coffee bar, steakhouse and room service at the Disneyland Hotel.
Related: Tips for Disneyland Character Dining
The Disneyland Hotel has two shops in the Fantasy Tower – a large gift shop and a smaller sundries shop. The sundries shop was a life-saver on our first day because my 15-year-old daughter started having trouble with her wisdom teeth. I found Orajel and other pain relief options, plus toiletries, snacks, clothing and souvenirs here.
The large gift shop was our last stop before we checked out. My daughter spotted a particular key chain in another shop, and they carried it here too! It's a 5-10 minute walk to the huge World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, but this was even more convenient and less crowded.
Find out about complimentary events and activities at the Disneyland Hotel during your stay. We were there during Halloween season. Trick-or-Treating was happening in the public areas of the hotel during some afternoons. Most evenings, the hotel hosted an outdoor Disney movie.
The Disneyland Hotel also has a guest laundry room and fitness center on site. We didn't use either of these, but I was glad the laundry room was there, just in case.
One of the benefits of staying at the Disneyland Hotel was that we basked in that “Happiest Place on Earth” feeling around the clock. Everything was clean, bright and wholesome, with a cheery soundtrack. Everyone was friendly and helpful. After a full week in the Disney bubble, it felt strange and a little sad to leave the Disneyland Hotel and live in the real world again.
The Disneyland Hotel was a splurge for my family. There were lots of times before and during our trip that we wondered, “Is it worth it?” I have no regrets now. We would still consider a more affordable and less magical hotel next time, but I have nothing but happy memories of our stay at the Disneyland Hotel.
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