While planning a Disney vacation, one of the biggest hurdles (and costs) is figuring out where to stay. When visiting Disneyland, especially for first-timers and families, there’s nothing like staying on property. But, which of the three Disneyland hotels is best for you and your group? Let’s get into it.
Due to Covid-19, some hotel benefits and resort offerings are currently unavailable. As the pandemic continues to evolve, things are subject to change. So, please refer to the Disneyland app or website for the most up-to-date information.
Why You Should Stay at the On-Property Disneyland Hotels
Ok, first things first. Since some off-property hotels near Disneyland offer a quality stay with equally great locations and perks like bigger rooms or complimentary breakfast all at cheaper rates, you might be wondering what it is that makes the on-property Disney hotels “worth it.”
Unfortunately, unlike deciding where to stay at Disney World, choosing either an on-property hotel near Disneyland & California Adventure or one of the resorts in the surrounding area isn’t so cut and dry. While Disney’s east-coast counterpart sits on its own pixie dust-enshrouded island, giving on-property resorts an advantage over those outside the Walt Disney World bubble based on location alone, that isn’t the case with the Disneyland Resort.
Instead, Disneyland is veritably surrounded by the city of Anaheim, sans any real visual or geographical buffer, straight up to the theme park walls. The west-coast resort is also considerably smaller, with thousands of guestrooms just a short walk from the turnstiles.
In other words, you aren’t even sacrificing a convenient location in the name of a good deal. Add on other factors like brand loyalty points, and you’ve got one tricky decision to make.
All that being said, there are still some definite benefits to on-property hotels near Disneyland, particularly if you’re die-hard Disney fans, it’s you’re first time visiting or you’re traveling with children.
A Stay at a Disney Hotel Means More Time in the Theme Parks
Well, most of the time anyway. Usually, guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels receive the covetable perk of early admission to either Disneyland or California Adventure with Extra Magic Hour. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, Extra Magic Hour is currently suspended.
However, in normal times, this special benefit really is extra magical. Depending on the day of the week, guests can enter either Disneyland Park or California Adventure Park up to one hour early, giving a huge edge before the rest of the crowds start to flow in. And if it’s fully taken advantage of, Extra Magic Hour really can help you accomplish a lot before the lines start to grow.
Needless to say, we’re hopeful that this time-saving perk will return once crowd levels can return to normal. If it does (fingers crossed), this will likely be the Extra Magic Hour Early Admission schedule:
- Disneyland Park – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
- Disney California Adventure Park – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
Snag That Must-Have Reservation with Preferred Access
Again, during normal times. Like Extra Magic Hours, preferred access for reservations to some of the Disneyland restaurants and attractions like Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Downtown Disney and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is currently unavailable.
When this trip-planning head start is being offered, Disneyland hotel guests are able to make reservations for restaurants and a couple of select attractions up to 60 days prior to and no less than two days before check-in. As some reservations are incredibly popular, this can make all the difference in whether you’re able to get one or not.
Restaurants and attractions with preferred reservation access for Disney hotel guests include:
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the Disneyland Resort
- Blue Bayou Restaurant
- Café Orleans
- Carnation Café
- Carthay Circle Lounge Alfresco Dining
- Carthay Circle Restaurant
- Catal Restaurant
- GCH Craftsman Bar
- Goofy’s Kitchen
- La Brea Bakery Café
- Lamplight Lounge
- Magic Key Terrace (for Magic Key holders only)
- Napa Rose
- Naples Ristorante e Bar
- Plaza Inn
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
- River Belle Terrace
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes
- Tortilla Jo’s
- Wine Country Trattoria
And, of course, there’s this…
Disneyland Hotels Bring the Magic
If you’re hoping for an enchanting vacation from beginning to end, there’s no better way to make it happen than booking a night at one of the Disneyland hotels. Unlike off-property hotels near Disneyland, on-property outposts like the Grand Californian, Paradise Pier and Disneyland Hotel are filled with magical touches inside and out.
From fanciful meals during character dining and Disney-inspired interiors to wake-up calls from your favorite characters and views of the theme parks and fireworks, the wonder doesn’t stop when you go back to your room. This makes them a great pick for those looking for the complete Disney experience, whether it’s your first time going to Disneyland or you’re traveling with kids in tow.
Other Disneyland Hotel Perks That Are Fun, Thoughtful or Just Plain Convenient
That’s not all! If those great benefits aren’t enough, Disneyland Resort hotel guests can also take advantage of an array of other convenient perks. Prefer to not carry around your credit card? If you’re staying at one of the Disneyland hotels, you don’t have to, thanks to room charging privileges with your Key to the Magic Card.
Rather not save your shopping ‘til last but don’t want to have to lug your haul around all day long? No problem! Just have your items delivered back to your hotel and pick them on the way to your room for an utterly convenient shopping spree. (Well, there is kind of a problem, as package delivery is currently suspended due to Covid-19. However, you can still have purchases held for you while you explore the parks.)
And remember those whimsical wake-up calls starring everyone’s favorite Disney characters we mentioned earlier? Perfect for kids and Disney adults alike, they’re an undeniably fun way to start the day and super easy to set up. Simply talk to a concierge or front desk cast member and they’ll make the magic happen.
Finally, all guestrooms at Disneyland Resort hotels come stocked with a variety of thoughtful amenities. While the bed situation changes based on which room type you book, you’ll typically find the following in-room comforts: mini-fridge, coffeemaker, iron & ironing board, satellite TV, hairdryer, in-room safe, alarm clock, phone with voicemail and high-speed Wi-Fi. A crib is also available upon request.
Breaking Down the Best Hotels in Disneyland
Sold on a stay at one of the Disneyland hotels? Before you book your reservation, you’ll first need to decide which one better suits your budget, interests and needs. Each charming hotel offers something different. So, keep reading as we break down each hotel’s pros and cons, and give our pick for the best hotel near Disneyland in California (sort of).
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Best for Couples or Other Adults Looking for a Luxurious(ly Spendy) Stay & Theme Park Views
While Disneyland doesn’t have a slate of deluxe resorts to choose from like Walt Disney World, there’s still more than enough luxury to go around at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Taking its cues from the Arts and Crafts movement, which has been beloved throughout the Golden State since the early 20th century, the Grand Californian’s laidback elegance is ideal for those looking to live like a true Disney VIP. Think luxe additions like cushy bathrobes and turndown service.
If you’re hoping to stay at one of the hotels closest to Disneyland, you can’t get closer than Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This refined Disneyland hotel is so close that it doesn’t just neighbor California Adventure – it actually has its own dedicated entrance to the park, as well as Downtown Disney, along with sweeping views of both from the hotel’s guestrooms.
Add in other indulgent amenities like the Tenaya Stone Spa and some of the resort’s most decadent restaurants, including fine dining at Napa Rose and a character breakfast at Storytellers Café, and you’ve got arguably the best Disneyland hotel.
Unfortunately, all that grandness is going to cost you. In fact, as this is the most expensive Disneyland hotel, depending on what time of year you visit, you may even find yourself paying almost a grand per night. Plus, given the hotel’s central location, a stunning lobby which often hosts a live pianist and great restaurants, it’s not unheard of for the hotel’s common areas to be quite busy and loud.
So, is it worth staying at Disneyland’s Grand Californian? Well, that depends on how much you can afford and who you’re traveling with.
With its plush rooms and some of the best dining on property, the Grand Californian is the best Disney resort for adults, whether couples or groups of architecture and Disney-loving grown-ups. However, sprinkle in subtle nods to Disney classics like Bambi and Chip ‘n’ Dale and it’s just playful enough to keep the kiddos happy.
- Room Rate Range – $475-$980
- Number of Guests – Guestrooms sleep up to 5 while suites are available for as many as 13
- Restaurants – 6 dining outlets, including room service
- Recreation – 3 pools, private cabanas and a fitness center with instructor-led classes
- Last Refurbished In – 2018
- Distance to the Parks – Private entrance to California Adventure, 5-10 minute walk to Disneyland
Best for Die-Hard Disney Fans & Families with Kids
If you’re looking for the full Disney experience with all the bells, whistles and pixie dust, then you’ll want to book your stay at the Disneyland Hotel. Falling into what those in Walt Disney World would consider a moderate resort, the Disneyland Hotel is the perfect combination of nostalgic charm and modern comforts, all at a slightly more reasonable price point.
With a name like the Disneyland Hotel, there are sure to be plenty of magical details, making it a dream of a stay for Disney geeks and families with children. Best of all, these aren’t the oversaturated odes to Disney characters that you’d find at Disney World’s value resorts. Instead, picture sophisticated takes like a headboard emblazoned with Sleeping Beauty castle and glittering fireworks or Hidden Mickeys in the carpeting. Or, for even more Disney magic, book one of the heavily themed Disneyland Hotel Signature Suites.
But the Disney-inspired fun doesn’t stop there. From the characters dishing up playful antics all day long at Goofy’s Kitchen to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, a quirky, must-see bar based on the classic Jungle Cruise ride, there’s no shortage of things to do. Be sure to check out the hotel’s two pools, retro aquatic playgrounds boasting waterslides styled after Disneyland’s iconic monorails.
- Room Rate Range – $300-$410
- Number of Guests – Guestrooms sleep up to 5 while suites are available for as many as 14
- Restaurants – 4 dining outlets
- Recreation – 2 pools, 2 hot tubs, private cabanas and a fitness center
- Last Refurbished In – 2021
- Distance to the Parks – Just under a 10-minute walk to the turnstiles
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
Best for Reasonable Rates, Fireworks Views and a Family-Friendly Vibe
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the cheapest Disneyland hotel (though, still not cheap by any means). However, it’s certainly not lacking in comfort or charm. Inspired by the relaxed beachfront hotels of California’s golden age – the 1920s, not the gold rush – this easygoing hotel offers bright, cozy rooms.
Although there isn’t as much Disney-inspired theming here as at the Disneyland Hotel, we’re willing to bet that your kiddos will still love staying here with the help of cute, beachy accents like a lamp featuring Lifeguard Mickey or a beachball-shaped accent pillow. Could the rooms use a facelift? Sure, but all that disappears if you’re lucky enough to score a room with views of the theme parks.
That’s right, while Paradise Pier may be one of the cheapest hotels near Disneyland, it also boasts some incredible views of both the parks and, best of all, the fireworks. Make your way up to Disneyland’s only rooftop pool or the nearby Sand Bar to catch the display, where the music even gets piped in during the show.
- Room Rate Range – $210-$350
- Number of Guests – Guestrooms sleep up to 5 while suites are available for as many as 13
- Restaurants – 3 dining outlets
- Recreation – Rooftop pool with children’s area and hot tub and a fitness center
- Last Refurbished In – 2011
- Distance to the Parks – 10-12 minutes’ walk depending on your pace
But just like one person’s trash is another’s treasure, each Disneyland hotel isn’t right for every stay. Keep in mind your travel budget and the number of beds you need, along with any wants or needs, and go from there. That way, you’re sure to come away with an experience that makes both you and your bank account happy.
Well, that wraps up the battle of the Disneyland hotels. With Disney-inspired décor and convenient perks, these pixie dust-drenched digs help make your vacation especially magical, no matter which you decide to stay at.
Have you stayed at one of the Disneyland hotels? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Amber is a proud former Walt Disney World Cast Member, an unabashed travel addict, and a hospitality and tourism specialist with over 10 years in the industry. She likes getting her wanderlust fix by sharing her favorite park tips and tricks with other Disney fans. When she isn’t working, you can usually catch her in a hot power yoga class or spending way too much money at Disney Springs.
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