There comes a point in Disney vacation planning when one has to decide: do you stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, or some other (far cheaper) one? Nine times out of ten, we opt for the cheaper choice - really, all you need is a place to crash for the few hours between park closing and park opening anyway, right? The thing is, staying at a Disney Hotel has a whole lot of perks, and the more often we splurge and stay at one, the more often we find that we really, really like it. If you’re on the fence, here’s our relatively unbiased opinion on why you should consider the Disneyland Hotel, the most iconic of all Disney Resort Hotels:
Obviously, the main reason people choose to stay at the Disneyland Hotel is because of the location. Being right at the end of Downtown Disney, the hotel is closer to the park than most hotels and the parking structures, so when you’re leaving the parks exhausted at the end of the night, you don’t have far to walk at all.
The Monorail also conveniently stops just a few yards from the hotel entrance, so if you find yourself with no bones and unable to manage to walk even one more step, the Monorail can do most of the work for you.
Being close to the parks has another bonus: you won’t need to rent a locker for the day. Having a locker is great for when you want to shed a jacket mid-day or change into warmer clothes in the evening, but being within a short walk of the main gate of the parks means that you can just drop by your room to change whenever you feel like it. Worth it!
Extra Magic Hour
Every person who stays at the Disneyland Hotel gets Extra Magic Hour added onto their ticket for the entire time they are at the Hotel. Yes, even Annual Passholders. This means you get to enter a specific park per day an hour before the park actually opens, and you can get a TON of stuff accomplished in this time.
Sometimes, DCA is the park that opens early, and sometimes its DCA twice in a row, which can be frustrating if you really really want the best shot at getting on Peter Pan’s Flight. Also, Disneyland doesn’t open all lands when it opens early, which is kindof annoying, but it’s still a huge plus to staying at the Disneyland Hotel.
Most hotels in Southern California have a pool, and the Disneyland Hotel’s pool isn’t all that huge or special except for the dope Monorail-themed waterslides. The best part of the Disneyland Hotel pool is that it’s so close to the park (see: Location) and also that you can get food and drinks brought to you while you lounge poolside. This brings us to our next point:
We’ve talked at length about Trader Sam’s, the Happiest Tiki Bar on Earth, and staying at the Disneyland Hotel means you are within stumbling distance of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at all times.
Sending Merch Back
One of the hugest perks of staying at the Disneyland Hotel is that when you buy something in the parks, they will send it back to your room. You heard that right - you don’t have to do anything but make a purchase, and come back to the Bell Services desk at the hotel the next day (after 7AM) to pick it up. Did we mention this is free? Talk about convenient.
Did you know if you’re staying at a Disneyland Hotel you get access to special dining reservations? That means that even if the calendar for the restaurant you want to enjoy looks booked solid, if you inquire at the Hotel, they might be able to get you a reservation.
Yes, you have to pay for hotel parking, but you don’t have to move your car at the end of the night - this means that, if you’re like us and drive to Disneyland, if you’re staying at the Disneyland Hotel you can park your car once and completely forget about it. Special bonus: if you forget anything in your car at any time, it’s super closeby and convenient - you won’t have to trudge all the way back to Mickey & Friends for a coat.
You can request a room with a fireworks view, or you can just hope you luck out. Either way, if you wind up with a view of the park from your room, odds are you’re going to be able to see the fireworks - and don’t worry, the Disneyland Hotel has a special TV channel that plays the music along with the show so you don’t miss a thing (except standing in the cold with the bajillions of other people in the park).
The Disneyland Hotel offers free movie viewing on select nights, which is both adorable and a great way to take a break from the parks without spending money and while still keeping in the Disneyland spirit.
The Disneyland Hotel is iconic in that it was the first resort hotel on the property, and you can’t help but notice the bits of Disneyland history scattered throughout. From the model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland tower to the vintage attraction poster wallpaper in the restrooms to the Mary Blair art scattered through the lobby, you’d be hard pressed to not get swept up in a wave of vintage Disneyland nostalgia.
Okay technically you can get merchandise pretty much everywhere in the park, but the beauty of the Disneyland Hotel is that you have an official Disneyland merch store in your hotel. Plus, you can get exclusive souvenirs from the Disneyland Hotel itself - down to the duvet cover or the pillows on your bed. You better believe we walked away with Disneyland Hotel bathrobes, and if they sold the light-up headboards we would be sorely tempted.
If character meet-and-greets are important to you (they aren’t that important to us), one thing that makes the Disneyland Hotel unique is the fact that at any given time, there might be a Disney character wandering the lobby for you to grab a photo and an autograph from. The Hotel also houses Goofy’s Kitchen, a character dining buffet where multiple characters come visit your table as you horf down at least 7 plates of Mickey waffles (just us?).
One of the best features of the Disneyland Hotel (and ok, most hotels) is a freaking bellhop because there is nothing on earth better than having someone else carry your bags to and from your room. Usually we just make Stephen carry everything, but at the Disneyland Hotel, even he gets to take a break!
This is going to come as no surprise, and it’s probably the biggest con the Disneyland Hotel has against it - the ginormous price tag attached to reserving a room. While not as expensive as the Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel is wildly expensive for a hotel, and definitely a treat-yourself expense that’s only worth it once in a while (unless you’re rolling in dough, in which case, good for you, and do you want to send some of it our way to sponsor a trip?). Booking a weekend can be staggering and will definitely eat up a huge chunk of your Disneyland trip budget.
Not as Luxe as you’d think
For the overwhelming price tag associated with the Disneyland Hotel, you’d think the rooms would be palatial, grandiose, and luxurious as heck. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much difference between a room at the Disneyland Hotel and a room at the Motel 6 - except for the light up singing headboard and the hidden Mickey touches and the vicinity to the pool and Trader Sam’s and you get the idea. Really, it’s just an average hotel with average hotel problems and average hotel sized rooms, but hey, you’re really paying for all the other benefits.
Should You Stay at the Disneyland Hotel?
We went a very long time without staying at the Disneyland Hotel. I’m talking years of Disney trips staying at the Motel 6 or the Holiday Inn or whatever was cheapest on Hotwire, because we figured there wasn’t much point in staying at a nice hotel if you’re going to spend all day at the Parks anyway. The first time we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel was a game changer. The entire time we stayed there, we were constantly saying things like “Oh right we don’t have to walk back to the car because our hotel is RIGHT THERE” or “Oh we could just take the MONORAIL HOME NO BIG DEAL.” For us, it is SO worth it to be able to have a nap mid-day or a quick costume change and still feel like we aren’t missing out on the Disney magic.
Should you book a stay at the Disneyland Hotel? It depends on what’s important to you on a Disney vacation. If you’re ok with spending a bunch of money to really feel like you’re treating yourself, then we say: GO FOR IT.