Tips for Kids to Enjoy Walt Disney World Playgrounds

Working downtime into your Disney vacation schedule can benefit everyone in the family. When you’re not in the Parks, take time to enjoy the amenities like the pool, resort activities and the playgrounds. Allowing kids time to play lets them burn off extra energy. The various themed playgrounds available at many of the Walt Disney World resort hotels let kids do what they do best! Here are a few kid-tested tips to enjoying the Disney World playgrounds.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Walt Disney World Resort Playgrounds

Playground structures are located at many of the resort hotels and are intended for kids aged 2-12. On my last Disney World trip I had my preschooler with me. I made sure we spent time at the resort playground each day. I found that he was much more cooperative about waiting in lines inside the Parks when he’d had the free play time!

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Kids will love The Dig Site at Disney’s Caribbean Beach, with several areas to play.

Not all of the Disney World Resorts have a playground. Here’s a list of those that do:

  • All-Star Movies Resort
  • All-Star Music Resort
  • All-Star Sports Resort
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Art of Animation Resort
  • BoardWalk Inn
  • BoardWalk Villas
  • Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Coronado Springs Resort
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Pop Century Resort
  • Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

What to Expect at Disney World Resort Playgrounds

Some of the playgrounds are more elaborate than others. Certain playgrounds are themed to the resort. Other playgrounds look like they’d be at your local park. Most will have some kind of climbing equipment, bars for hanging and slides.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

The Disney World playground at Fort Wilderness is under a canopy of trees.

During my visits (late spring) the playgrounds didn’t have a lot of kids. I’d expect that during busier seasons, there might be more activity. If your kids are anything like mine, they prefer when the playground has other children to play with! Check the times posted on when the playground is open (they generally close at dusk).

Some play areas at Disney World are under shade and others are out in the open. Play structure equipment can get really hot in the sunshine. Be sure to check before letting your child play.

There seems to be a good number of benches and seating for adults around the playgrounds. But of course, sit where you can supervise your kids!

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Coronado Spring’s Disney World playground is Mayan-themed like the resort.

Just Add Water!

A few of the pool areas at the Resorts also have interactive play structures. Kids can climb, splash, spray and stay cool. Many have height restrictions which limit use to preschool age or young elementary. These play structures are nicely suited for little ones who aren’t comfortable with full swimming pools or can’t yet swim.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Elaborate pirate-themed water play structure at Disney’s Caribbean Beach

Other Places to Play

No playground? No problem! Many of the resorts have areas for kids to play or simply run around. Always be considerate of noise (especially if the location is near hotel room windows and/or it’s particularly early in the day). And of course observe all rules, stay out of flower beds and take heed of signs that restrict access.

Kids can run and do cartwheels on the lawn at Beach Club.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

No playground? Let kids run on the grass (so long as there’s no sign restricting it)

There’s a game of corn hole in the bus waiting area at Port Orleans Riverside.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

A game of corn hole at Port Orleans Riverside

Many hotels, like Coronado Springs Resort have sandy beach areas.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Kids enjoy playing in the sandy beach at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Do you have a favorite play area at Disney World? Share with me in the comments!


For more play areas for kids at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


 

Is it Worth it to Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel vs Off-Site?

When considering a Disneyland vacation, you really have some outstanding options when it comes to accommodations! With Disneyland located in the middle of city there are a bounty of “off-site” hotels to choose from. So why would anyone choose to stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotel when there are hundreds of other lodging options surrounding the Parks? I’ll break it down and determine whether it’s worth it to stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel…or not.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


Should You Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel or Off-Site Location?

My family and I have stayed at all three of the Disneyland Resort Hotels over the course of many years. We’ve also stayed at dozens of the off-site locations and found some of them to be nicely accommodating!

So which one should you choose – A Disneyland Resort Hotel or an Off-Site Hotel? I’ll be giving you many discussion points to review before you book your Disneyland-area vacation hotel.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

What are the Disneyland Resort Hotels?

The Disneyland Resort area is smaller than Walt Disney World and includes only three resort hotels – Disney’s Paradise Pier, The Disneyland Hotel and Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Each of the Disneyland Resort hotels have themed rooms and pool areas that offer a full day of entertainment. Each hotel offers a unique Character meal. The hotels are located within walking distance of the Parks. Some of the hotel areas are more “Disney” than others. Each of them offers great customer service and that feeling of being inside the “Disney Bubble” while on vacation.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Disney’s Paradise Pier is always the lowest cost of the three resort hotels (but still not “inexpensive” by any means!) The hotel has a whimsical beach theme with a rooftop water slide and great views of Disney California Adventure park.

The Disneyland Hotel is a classic – The entire hotel is heavy on the Disney theming, from the Mad Tea Party teacups in the lobby to the imaginative light-up musical headboards in each room. A fantastic pool area with Monorail-themed water slides make this a magical place to stay.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Disney fans will appreciate the nods to Walt inside the Disneyland Hotel.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the closest hotel to the Park and hosts it’s own Resort guest-exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure park. The dramatic lobby and more sophisticated style with subtle Disney details add to the upscale nature of this beautiful hotel.

What are Good Neighbor Hotels?

Good Neighbor Hotels are off-site Anaheim area hotels that Disney promotes on their website. Not sure if these are actually hand-picked and approved hotels by Disney or if the hotels pay to be listed under the “Good Neighbor” umbrella?

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Castle-themed room at Anaheim Majestic Gardens

I’ve stayed at over a dozen and there is a vast range in quality, from low budget basic rooms to elegant family suites. Bottom line is that some of these hotels are better than others. Some of them are downright lousy, if I’m being honest!

Do your research – Read Yelp reviews. Take a look at the area map. Do a Google search. Ask a friend.

Two of my favorite off-site Disneyland area hotels:

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

A suite with a view! Watch fireworks from this window at the Holiday Inn & Suites.

Why Should I Consider an Off-Site Accommodation?

Cost

Far and away the best reason for booking off-site are the more reasonable low costs for a room. Hotel accommodations can be the major expense of any vacation and with Disneyland resort hotel rooms at $300+ per night, you might want to consider off-site lodging that is considerably less cost.

Walkable

Many very good off-site hotels are within walking distance of the Disneyland Resort. In fact, some are even closer to the front gates than the Disneyland Resort hotels!

Be sure to look at a map of the area before booking though. Some off-site locations boast that they’re across the street from Disneyland only to find out that you’ll still have a long walk to get to the entrance!

More Dining Options

There are restaurants and fast food places located all around the Disneyland area, many of them inside off-site hotels. Many of the off-site accommodations also have a complimentary breakfast – sweet!

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Free breakfast at the Holiday Inn is awesome!

Shuttles or Public Transportation

Even if the off-site hotel is a mile away, many of them offer free or low cost shuttles to the park entrance. Public transportation (like the ART) stops near other hotels for a nominal fee (definitely cheaper than parking your vehicle at the Disneyland parking lot!)

Variety of Room Options

The rooms at the Disneyland Resort are all pretty standard sized. If you need something with more space or a suite on a budget, looking off-site will give you what you need.


What are the Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel?

Extra Magic Hour

Want to get inside the Park early and avoid extra long queues? Disneyland Resort hotel guests can take advantage of Extra Magic Hour for each day of their stay.

Staying in the Magic

If you prefer to avoid the “outside world” while enjoying a Disney vacation, you’ll love the Disneyland Resort hotels. You’ll never have to leave the area or step outside of the Disney bubble!

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Wall of historical photos inside the Disneyland Hotel.

Special Guest-Only Offerings

When you check in, the Cast Member will give you a calendar of items that are happening at the Resort during your stay. This may include pool-side activities, Disney movies under the stars, early access to shops in the Downtown Disney District or free tours.

A History Like No Other

When you take a look at this wall of photos in the Disneyland Hotel you can see the rich history of the resort and what it has meant to so many. That’s a history that many Disney fans will love to soak in!

If you want to know more check out these valuable reasons to stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


 For more opinions on what is & isn’t worth the splurge at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Is It Worth It? Loop:

5 Favorite Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotels

Check out this list of my Favorite Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotels

The area around the Disneyland resort is packed with hotels, many that are within a quick walking distance to the park gates. If staying at one of the Disneyland resort hotels is beyond your budget, these tried and tested hotels in the Anaheim area are highly recommended. While there are many hotels, I’m only going to suggest hotels that I’ve actually stayed in. This is my list of my five favorite off-site Disneyland area hotels.

Please note that I received compensated stays at some of these locations, which in no way swayed my opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotels – Criteria

Must be reasonably priced and clean. We’ve stayed at plenty of the “cheap” hotels but you sometimes get what you pay for in that sense. The hotels we stay at offer great amenities and are close to the Disneyland resort.

Check out this list of my Favorite Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotels

Holiday Inn Express Anaheim Penthouse Suite

Holiday Inn Express Anaheim

Located about half a mile away from the Disneyland park front gates, this newer hotel has plenty of perks. From the clean and chic design, complimentary hot breakfast and options for roomy family suites this is a great location if you don’t mind a little walk at the end of the night.

See the full review on Traveling Mom.

Anaheim Residence Inn

Oh yeah, another one with a free breakfast buffet! What a great money saver for a big family. Located about a half mile from the park gates, the Anaheim Residence Inn resembles town homes. And with full kitchens and roomy suites these can totally be a home away from home, making this a great place to stay for a longer vacation.

Check out this list of my Favorite Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotels

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel

This newly refurbished gem is ideal for families who like a lot of space. The standard rooms are large and the grounds of the hotel are spacious. Kids will like the elegant castle theming throughout and grown-ups will like the decent price! Guests can also watch the fireworks from Disneyland from the hotel pool area.

Read the full review on Traveling Mom.

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This photo was taken from the parking lot of the Park Vue Inn, facing the front entrance of the Disneyland Resort

Park Vue Inn

You can’t get much closer to the park entrance than this! It’s located directly across the street from the main entrance. This is a no-frills hotel but it was clean and offered a continental breakfast, which is always a plus. And there’s a Coldstone Creamery right there, bonus!

Check out this list of my Favorite Off-Site Disneyland Area Hotels

Anaheim Marriott Hotel

Anaheim Marriott Hotel

This classy hotel is several long blocks away from the park, but they do offer a shuttle to the gates (nominal fee). I’m all for a comfy bed and linens and this location delivered.

On or Off Site?

If you’re on the fence about staying on-site at a Disneyland Resort hotel or off-site, be sure to check out these posts outlining the pros and cons about staying off-site and the benefits of staying on-site.

disneyland-resort  hotel-pin

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels

Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

When it comes to booking, if you aren’t particular about the hotel, I highly recommend making your reservation through Priceline. We’ve been able to get a superior room for $60 (even on a weekend!) Click the Priceline link via Ebates and you’ll save a few dollars cash back that way too (every little bit helps!)

Though many of these off-site hotels do have a “Disney Desk” that offers sales of Disneyland tickets, I still recommend that you purchase tickets ahead of time.

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

 Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa - A Rustic Respite in the City

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa – A Rustic Respite in the City

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Earlier this year we spent one overnight at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa for the first time. We’ve stayed many times at the other two Disneyland Resort hotels, the Paradise Pier Hotel and the original Disneyland Hotel. We were so excited to stay at this rustic respite since we’d walked through it a few times before, simply to admire the lobby. Fortunately our stay met all of our expectations, read on for the full review.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Lobby & Check-in

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa lobby is as you would expect, grand! There are fantastic details at every turn, from the stained glass lamps, classic phones, pretty floral arrangements and sparkling diamond ‘D’ to celebrate Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. Alcoves around the main lobby are homey and inviting, including a rustic fireplace.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Check-in desk at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

We checked in early on a Saturday morning and there were only a few ahead of us in line but they had a Cast Member asking us a few questions in advance. She then introduced us when we did get to the counter and let them know that we were there to celebrate an upcoming birthday. The Cast Member checking us in was able to write up a birthday button as well as celebration buttons for everyone in our group. While I went through the check-in process, my kids waited in front of a television, seated in tiny wooden rockers.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Our room wasn’t ready yet, so they were able to hold our bags so we could venture into the parks. I was told that I would receive a text message when our room was ready (and I did!) Later in the day, we came back through the lobby to get into bathing suits and there was a man playing the piano in front of the towering stone fireplace. It certainly added even more charm to the grand, yet still cozy, feeling.

Rooms

The rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel face the lobby. I thought that the noise from below might carry up into the rooms, but we couldn’t hear any noise. In fact the room was very quiet, even thought it was overlooking the front of the hotel and valet area. We had a small balcony with a table and chairs to get fresh air outside and we were able to catch a view of the Monorail as it drove by.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Decor in the rooms doesn’t scream Disney but there are subtle details like the Bambi print on the shower curtain and a picture on the wall of the dwarf’s cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The room was nicely sized, with enough room for our family of five to spread out. We were only there overnight so luggage was minimal (just one big bag) but I can see that space might have been tighter if we’d been staying longer. We were given a bunk bed set-up, alongside a queen bed. There was also a desk against the wall, dresser, closet, sink area and a separate toilet/shower space. In the evening when we returned from the parks, we found a roll-out bed had been made up for our preschooler and each pillow had a chocolate treat!

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

I liked having the sink area separate from the bathroom so we weren’t on top of each other getting ready in the morning. A nice supply of h2O spa products was a plus, including foot rub and after-sun gel. You can be sure these top-notch toiletries came home with me after the trip! My husband appreciated having a coffee maker in the room as well.

Dining

We’ve eaten at Storyteller’s Cafe twice (once for lunch and another time, for the dinner buffet). It’s definitely a favorite of ours (read my review on Storyteller’s Cafe here).

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Napa Rose is a fancier dining restaurant so we’ve yet to dine here. There is also Whitewater Snacks which is close-by the pool area and would be a good choice for a quick grab and go meal. Disney’s Grand Californian is very close to the Downtown Disney District and lots of other dining choices. For our morning at the park, we were able to walk into the Downtown Disney District and grab breakfast sandwiches from La Brea Bakery Express.

Pool Area

Just like at the Disneyland Hotel, spending time at Disney’s Grand Californian pool area can easily be an all-day affair! We arrived at the pool midday and couldn’t secure a lounge chair because they were all taken. I’d definitely recommend arriving early if you want a place to rest because I ended up having to sit on a brick wall in the shade while my family was swimming.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

The three pools are beautiful and unique. However they are spread out so you can’t just post yourself in one place if you’re trying to keep an eye on the kids. Fortunately there are very diligent lifeguards there to remind kids about running poolside and keeping a close eye on all the activity.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

The twisty slide was a highlight here, of course! I appreciated the amenities here, like ample bathrooms, cold water and cups, swim diapers for babies and life vests for kids. See also my overview on all the pools at the Disneyland Resort Hotels as well as this post on Traveling Mom about what you can expect at Disneyland Resort pools.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Bottom Line

As with the other hotels at the Disneyland Resort, we felt that our stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa really added to the magic of our vacation. We loved the easy access and guest-only private entrance to Disney California Adventure park. This made swinging back to the hotel for lunch and a swim a simple mid-day break. The Cast Members were efficient and helpful anytime we requested assistance. Our room and all of the hotel was well-kept and clean. Yes, this is the most expensive of the three Disneyland Resort hotels but it easily became a fast favorite of the area hotels simply because of the location. Will we stay here again? Yes, for a one-night splurge we will stay again!

See my other posts about the Disneyland Resort hotels, Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel (click the thumbnail images below). I also have a post on Traveling Mom about the 18 Valuable Reasons To Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed  Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel  PIN-18 Valuable Reasons

I received a complimentary stay at Disney’s Californian Hotel & Spa. As always, opinions are my own.

Have you stayed at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels? Which is your favorite and why? Share with me below in the comments!

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Disneyland Resort Hotel Review – Paradise Pier Hotel

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are reviewing the official Disneyland hotels and some of Disneyland’s Good Neighbor hotels. While Walt Disney World boasts dozens of “on-site” resort hotels, the Disneyland Resort only has three – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the original Disneyland Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Paradise Pier Hotel many times over the years and as with all other Disney resorts, I’ve enjoyed my visits.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Image Credit: Disney Parks

When you first step into the lobby, you might feel that this particular hotel is lacking a bit in the theming that is so prevalent at the other two hotels. While the other two Resort hotels were built specifically as Disney resorts, the Paradise Pier Hotel was actually a different establishment that was taken over and remodeled by Disney. The Paradise Pier started its life as the Emerald of Anaheim in 1984 and later renamed the Pan Pacific Hotel. It was purchased by Disney in 1995 and renamed it the Disney Pacific Hotel. In 2000, it was re-branded as the Paradise Pier Hotel (to match the Paradise Pier theme at Disney California Adventure Park).

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Inside the Paradise Pier Hotel gift shop, Mickey in Paradise

The lobby is a bit lackluster, I will admit. There is a Goofy statue that’s fun to take your picture with. There is a large gift shop (called Mickey in Paradise). There’s a restaurant (home to a Character breakfast) and a lounge. And a kid’s space called the “Paradise Theater” that shows Disney cartoons in a beach-theme. It’s a small lobby that lacks the “grandness” (obviously) of the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the vintage-chic feel of the Disneyland Hotel. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not very “Disney” feeling. But then again, you can always go and visit the lobbies at the other two Resort hotels and come back to the Paradise Pier Hotel to stay the night, right?

So what makes the Paradise Pier special and worth a stay? Here are some upsides:

A Beachy-keen Theme – The rooms are light and breezy in a fun beach theme that reflects the Paradise Pier, complete with beach balls pillows on the bed. There are subtle Disney details throughout too, including a lifeguard Mickey lamp. I think it’s a really fun and roomy space. There’s even a sleeper sofa for extra space.

Gotta Love that View – Watch the action taking place below with a stunning view of Disney California Adventure Park.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

A vintage view of Disney California Adventure Park, circa 2009

Extra Magic Hour  – While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, guests may enjoy the theme parks an hour before park opening with Extra Magic Hour. All Disneyland Resort hotel guests also have access to the exclusive entrance to Disney California Adventure park from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. It’s a great way to get that Radiator Springs Racers FastPass.

Slightly Lower Cost – Paradise Pier is always the lesser priced of the three Disney Resort hotels but it’s still priced quite a bit more than other area Good Neighbor hotels.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Catch a Wave for Breakfast – Disney’s PCH Grill hosts the Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & Friends, a highly enjoyable character dining experience. We’ve dined here several times and appreciate the variety at the buffet (can’t go wrong with Mickey waffles!) as well as the entertainment and characters that come to each table.

Concierge – We splurged on concierge during one of our stays here and it was a treat. We were able to enjoy the special lounge for a light morning breakfast, return for an “evening happy hour” with appetizers and pick up bottled water and a few snacks before heading to the pool. There was also turn-down service and a special treat for the kids when we returned in the evening.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

Proximity to the Parks – Yep, there are definitely motels on the other side of the Disney Parks that are technically closer to the front gates. Still, it’s really less than a 10-minute walk from the Paradise Pier to the special “Guest-only” entrance at Disney’s Grand Californian (bring your valid hotel room key & park tickets for access) and it’s only a few minutes more to reach the Monorail Station entrance in the Downtown Disney District. And the landscaped walk along the curving footpath is pleasant.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Review - Paradise Pier Hotel

California Streamin’ waterslide

A Pool with a View – Situated on the third floor, the Paradise Pool is an enjoyable respite mid-day. My kids have always loved the California Streamin’ waterslide and little ones will enjoy the Children’s splash pool. It’s a smaller area than the other Disney Resort hotel pool areas, which can be a good thing when you have small kids to keep your eye on.

Fireworks – Come night fall, from the third floor pool deck, you can pull up a beach chair and watch the Disneyland fireworks over the Park. There is a live synchronized broadcast over the loudspeakers so you’re fully involved in the show. I have fond memories of my dad’s last visit to Disneyland, as he held two of his pajama-clad grandsons on his lap while we watched the fireworks from this location.

The Paradise Pier sounds like the perfect place to start the day (with a Character breakfast) and a lovely place to end the night (with fireworks)! What is your favorite feature of the Paradise Pier Hotel? Share below in the comments!



Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disneyland & Good Neighbor Hotel Reviews Loop:

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Looking for ways to save on your Disney vacation?  I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets! (affiliate link)

Park Savers affiliate link

Disneyland Hotel – Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Welcome to the next stop on the Magical Blogorail. Today we are discussing some of the best Disney resorts around the world.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

 

The Disneyland Hotel at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California is the first hotel to bear the Disney name. It opened in October of 1955, nearly 3 months after Disneyland opened. There were 100 rooms in five two-story guest room complexes. Guests could book a night for $15.00. Today none of the original hotel buildings from 1955 remain standing however the entire resort has recently undergone drastic remodel that makes it shine brighter than ever.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

I’ve stayed at the Disneyland Resort with my family countless times over the years. Since we live in San Diego, a drive to Disneyland only takes about 90 minutes so our trips were generally just one day and we didn’t often stay overnight. Staying at the Disneyland Hotel was, and still is, a special treat for us. Even though there are technically closer hotels to the Park entrances at much cheaper prices (see my post Disneyland Resort VS. Good Neighbor Hotels), there is just a magic that envelopes you when you stay at the Disneyland Hotel.

Neverland Pool at the Disneyland Hotel

Yesteryears…the Neverland Pool at the Disneyland Resort (circa 2007)

I’ve discussed on this blog before how much we love the pool at the Disneyland Hotel (see my post outlining all the fantastic Disneyland Resort Pools). Shaded by the three resort towers sits the newly re-themed pool area with three retro-styled pools, water slides, cabanas for rent, the Tangaroa Terrace for lunch and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar for drinks.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed


CLASSIC

I cherish how the Disneyland Hotel pays tribute to its iconic past. In the remodeling process the three towers that make up the Disneyland Hotel were renamed Fantasy, Frontier and Adventure. We have stayed in two of the three (Fantasy and Frontier) and love the unique lobby theme in each. Even at Christmas, the decorated trees in the individual lobbies were in the theme of the tower.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

The main lobby and check in for the hotel is inside the Fantasy Tower, which features this enormous light-up map of the Disneyland Park on the wall.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Inside the lobby of the Frontier Tower is a scale replica model of the ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

The Disneyland Hotel pool is our favorite place to spend an afternoon and I love that even the pool area pays tribute to Disneyland’s roots.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed


CLASSY

Okay, so we’ll probably never have the opportunity to stay in one, but just knowing the the Disneyland Hotel has the amazing themed signature suites available gives me goosebumps! Which one of the five would you choose?

Adventureland, Fairy Tale, Big Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean or Mickey Mouse Penthouse?

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Adventureland Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Fairy Tale Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Big Thunder Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Pirates of the Caribbean Suite (Image from Disneyland.com)

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Mickey Mouse Penthouse (Image from Disneyland.com)

And if you’re done with corn dogs and popcorn, Disneyland also offers upscale dining at Steakhouse 55 for either breakfast or dinner. Mmmm, you had me at prime rib!


CHARACTER-KISSED

Yes, of course the Disneyland Hotel doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is the house of the mouse and you can find him in subtle (and not-so-subtle ways) throughout the resort. The front entrance of the hotel features statues of Mickey and Minnie.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

The hotel is rife with Hidden Mickeys to find from floor to ceiling and the amazing double headboard houses a magical surprise!

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Along the pathway from the hotel to the Downtown Disney District is Mickey’s huge sorcerer’s hat, that Tinker Bell illuminates with twinkling lights at night.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

There are Disney touches everywhere you look, even in these sweet Minnie & Mickey topiaries just outside the pool grounds.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed

Do you delight in dining with a slapstick crew? Then Goofy’s Kitchen is for you! We met at least a half dozen characters including a chipmunk who joined us for dinner!

Dining with Chip (or Dale?) at Goofy's Kitchen (circa 2008)

Dining with Chip (or Dale?) at Goofy’s Kitchen (circa 2008)


Want to learn more about the Disneyland Hotel? Guests 14+ can take this complimentary one-hour walking tour, the Happiest Hotel on Earth Tour and discover how the Disneyland Hotel was a part of Walt Disney’s dream of the “Happiest Place on Earth” (reserve a spot at the Guest Services desk).

For more about the Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, click the link where I address Extra Magic Hours, Character Wake-Up Calls and use of an exclusive entrance to the Park.

Disneyland Hotel - Classic, Classy and Character-Kissed


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail | Special Edition : Best Disney Resorts Around the World Loop:

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools - What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!

The fun-packed resort pools are a great reason to choose to stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel on your vacation. All three of the unique pools at the Disneyland Resort offer a little something different, along with something special for each person in your family.

Our vacation isn’t complete without a day spent at a Disneyland Resort pool! We usually hit the whirlpool spas the night before we visit the Parks, where we sit in the warm bubbles and discuss our upcoming adventures. During our stay we often take a break back at the hotel in the afternoon to cool off with a swim. And we always reserve the last day of our trip to enjoy pool-side.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!

Here is a brief overview of the three Disneyland Resort Hotel swimming pools –


Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

    

We recently stayed at this hotel for the first time and truly enjoyed our visit poolside. It’s beautifully tree-lined and has a very “woodsy” feel. The quiet Fountain Pool features a turtle fountain. The Redwood Pool has a 90-foot-long waterslide that curves around the giant stump of a Redwood tree…how fun is that?!

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools - What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!

A Mickey Mouse-shaped Children’s Pool and a whirlpool hot tub are also in this area. The Mariposa Pool features decorative butterflies and lights in the pool deck area, with a whirlpool spa nearby. It’s a beautiful and relaxing looking space.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools - What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!


 Paradise Pier Hotel

    

This third-floor pool area offers pretty views and more! We’ve stayed here many times and have visited the pool area at night as well. You can view the Disneyland fireworks show from the pool area and the music is piped in over the loudspeakers. My big kids enjoy going back and forth between the Paradise Pool and California Streamin’, the classic waterslide!

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!

My littest one liked dipping his toes in the shallow Children’s Pool. And of course if you just need to relax, the Paradise Spa whirlpool hot tub is available here. The Sand Bar offers outdoor dining, though they’ve never been open on the times/days we’ve visited. That’s something to keep in mind if you like to nibble poolside, so ask first at Guest Services.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!


Disneyland Hotel

    

Spending time at the Disneyland Hotel pool area is one of the highlights of our vacation memories! My husband enjoys relaxing in either the Mickey or Minnie Whirlpool Spas. My big kids like to swim laps in the D-Ticket pool.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!

And well, you’d be hard pressed to pull my preschooler away from the Monorail Pool!  Two large water slides (180-foot-long and 80-foot-long) make a big splash and are replicas of the original Mark 1 Monorail trains. The 2-lane mini slide is where you’ll find my little one. He loves to splash around in the zero entry pool area with pop jets, fountains and a waterfall to walk under.

pool pool1

We have spent many afternoons here swimming under the sun or relaxing in the warm whirlpool. We’ll often pick up food from Tangaroa Terrace and lounge on a chaise, eating our lunch. They also offer poolside service and drinks from the bar during certain times.

Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!


Extra Fun in the Sun

  • Luxurious and private Poolside Cabanas are offered to guests staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or the Disneyland Hotel. Rent them for either a half or full day and enjoy a respite in the shade that includes cable television, mini fridge with bottled water, complimentary fruit platter and ample lounging space. A cabana server will be available to take your food and beverage order. To learn about pricing options or to make a reservation, please call (714) 635-2300, option 5, or visit the Guest Services desk inside the hotel.
  • Pool Parties are offered seasonally at different times (depending upon the resort) and include an hour of games, music and dancing. Check with the Resort hotel for more information.

What to expect 

  • There are bathrooms at each resort, with showers outside for rinsing off.
  • Towels are supplied poolside, so no need to bring one from your hotel room.
  • For babies and toddlers, there are swim diapers provided as well as life jackets.

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Exercising on Vacation?! – Getting in a Workout, Disney-style at the Disneyland Resort Hotels

Exercising on Vacation?! - Getting in a Workout, Disney-style at the Disneyland Resort Hotels

You didn’t get enough of a workout strolling through the Parks? No worries, the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort have you covered. There are gyms for breaking a sweat in, pools to cool off in and fun group exercise activities that even take you inside the Park!

             

I will be totally honest with you: I’ve never worked out on a Disneyland vacation. However, because we live so close my “trips” are usually only overnight and the days are jam-packed with Park walking. If I were to take a longer vacation, I know I’d want to supplement the walking with some cardio or weight training as well. It’s great to know that even while you’re indulging in fried chicken at the Plaza Inn you can still keep up your healthy exercise habits!

Images from Disney.com

The fitness centers at the Disneyland Resort hotels are well-equipped with treadmills, bicycles (both regular and recumbent), ellipticals, stair climbers, free weights and weight machines. There are lockers available. Use of the fitness centers is complimentary for Resort Hotel Guests. Guests must be 14 years or older to use the fitness centers. Guests 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult or guardian.

Eureka Fitness Center at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel – closes at 8 pm daily.

Goofy About Health Club at the Disneyland Hotel -open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Mickey’s Beach Fitness Center at the Paradise Pier -open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Image from Disney.com

The pools of the Disneyland Resort offer Guests a refreshing swim, though it might be a challenge getting a decent water-workout during peak times. Early morning or late evening are probably your best bet for getting a space in the pool to exercise. The D-Ticket pool at the Disneyland pool is recommended for lap swimming.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa pools

Disneyland Hotel pools

Paradise Pier pool

Each pool also offers whirlpool hot tubs for relaxing those sore muscles after your workout (or after a long day on your feet in the Park!)

Images from Disney.com


All Guests of the Disneyland Resort hotels can participate in the Get Up & Go Power Walk. Beginning at 7am, this is a 15-minute, one-mile walk through Disney California Adventure Park. It is led by a Guest Activities Coordinator and free for Resort Guests. Minimum age to participate is 14 years; Guests 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Sign up at the Guest Services desk in the main lobby to reserve a space.

A Pilates-inspired, non-impact fitness class is held near the Outdoor Fireplace in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This one-hour workout session is appropriate for men and women of all fitness levels. Minimum age to participate is 14 years old. Contact the Guest Services desk upon arrival for the class schedule and to sign up; Reservations are required.


Do you exercise on your Disney vacations? Share below in the comments and please consider signing up for my newsletter so you’ll be notified when new posts are listed.

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Budgeting for a Disneyland Vacation – How to Pinch Pennies on Your Trip

Budgeting for a Disneyland Vacation? 

Should you budget or break the bank for your Disneyland vacation? A few things to consider: Do you want to go all out and live it up on this trip or are you content to stick to your frugal ways for your stay? Or maybe a nice balance of both – Pick and choose what items are most important for your vacation and be thrifty in some places and more free with your money in others.

I’m sharing my tips on how to pinch your pennies on a Disneyland vacation as well as offering fun splurges and over-the-top ways to break the bank at Disneyland.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Tossing change in the wishing well at Snow White’s Grotto

1. Choosing a Budget Hotel

In Anaheim, there are hundreds of area hotels and motels in every price range to choose from for your Disneyland stay. Some are literally a stoplight away, directly across the street from the entrance esplanade. Take a look at Disney’s recommended “Good Neighbor” hotels for reasonable suggestions. Consider Priceline if you’d like a fancier hotel at a cheaper rate. You won’t be able to choose your location but you can choose your price and the star-rating. Don’t forget to ask for a discount or if the hotel accepts AAA (or another discount card).

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Castle-themed room at Anaheim Majestic Gardens

Pinch Your Pennies – Cheap motels can be found all over Anaheim, some within walking distance of Disneyland. These are no-frills, un-themed basic motels with doors that face outside. Some of these motels offer a do-it-yourself breakfast. Most have very basic swimming pools. Some motels are better than others; some are quite nice for the price and others are frankly, dumpy. Read Yelp or my reviews for advice).

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Room at the very lovely Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove

For a Little More Money – Some of the more pricier hotels have Disney themed rooms or special features, like bunk-beds for the kids or a kitchenette. Pools are usually larger and offer more amenities. Some nicer hotels offer breakfast included in the price, but most do not. Some of these hotels also offer complimentary shuttle service to the Parks, but again many do not (or they charge an additional fee).

As an alternative to a hotel, there are local vacation homes available. Some have elaborate theming and play spaces for children. This is particularly nice if you are traveling with a large group and want to stay all together.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge– The hotels of the Disneyland Resort are completely themed and immerse you in that “Disney Magic”. Pools may have bar and food service and offer life vests and swim diapers for little ones. The Resort hotels are all within close walking distance to the Park entrances. Grand Californian Resort and Spa has an exclusive entrance for Resort guests (with valid Park ticket) to enter Disney California Adventure Park. Disneyland Resort guests can also take advantage of Extra Magic Hour that allows them entrance to the Park one hour earlier (according to schedule).

Go for Broke – For an additional fee, you can add Club-level service to your Resort stay. The room will be exactly the same however you’ll receive access to the Club lounge which includes continental breakfast, sodas and snacks throughout the day and a wine and cheese reception at night. You’ll even receive special treats before bed! We’ve stayed on the Club-level floor at the Paradise Pier and it was lovely to pick up snacks and sodas before going to the pool or into the Park and be greeted with chocolate-dipped Mickey-shaped rice cereal treats on our bed at night!

Rent a poolside cabana for the day at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels. Last summer while swimming in the Disneyland Hotel pool, we *ahem* saw Adam Sandler coming in and out of his poolside cabana!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Make it Rain– Book a beautiful suite or signature suite at either the Grand Californian Resort and Spa or the Disneyland Hotel. At the Grand Californian, suites are themed in a rustic but elegant art-deco decor. The Disneyland Hotel has amazing signature suites that are beautifully themed to the Park.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)


Save Money on Your Disney Vacation!

Purchase discount Disneyland and Walt Disney World tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


2. Transportation Costs

Pinch Your Pennies – If you plan to be only visiting the Disneyland Resort during your California stay, there is no need to rent a vehicle. The Disneyland Resort Express bus will take you from the airport to the Anaheim area for a fee. Choose a motel within walking distance of the Parks and simply let your feet be your guide. If your motel is a bit too far to walk, The Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) runs to many of the local motels and other area amusement parks for a small fee. There aren’t any grocery stores within close walking distance of the Resort (only convenience stores) so you may need to take a bus or Uber to get to the nearest Target.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Bus transportation back to the parking areas.

Splurge – If your trip includes stops in Long Beach, Orange County or San Diego then renting a car is the best way. You can also take the train for a unique experience. It can be convenient to have a rental car with you to drive yourself from the airport to hotel, for shopping and for travel within the area. Parking at the Disneyland Resort is $15.00 per day. Your hotel may have per night fees for parking as well.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

3. Least Expensive Time of the Year

Pinch Your Pennies – When you’re budgeting, Disneyland’s “Value Season” is your bread and butter. You will choose an off-peak time period (not over a holiday, 3-day weekend or school break). You will go to the Parks mid-week, never on a weekend for the best motel prices.

Unfortunately Disney often schedules ride refurbishments or closures during Value Season so there may be a chance that you’ll miss riding your favorite or being able to see fireworks. Park hours are often shorter during Value Season.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge – A visit during Peak Season takes patience and a bit more money. Prices skyrocket at Disneyland over the holidays, in particular the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. However the Parks are dressed to the nines in holiday fashion and there are special events planned, like ice skating in Downtown Disney District at Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink (additional fee). Ride refurbishments are at a minimum during Peak Season and hours are usually longer. Want the Christmas spirit but not the crazy crowds? Aim to visit in the last week of November (after Thanksgiving) and the first week of December for the lighter crowds.

Go for Broke – The holiday season is joyous! Enjoy an elegant Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at one of the Resort hotel restaurants and an over-the-top New Year’s Eve Gala at Napa Rose with dinner and dancing.


4. Best Price on Tickets 

Pinch Your Pennies– Plan to spend one day in each Park, minimum. Purchase a two-day base pass, one Park each day. Just know in advance that you won’t be able to see and do everything in two Parks in two days! Check with your AAA office, Human Resources department, Costco or local grocery stores for possible discounted passes. I recommend booking through a travel agency that specializes in Disney vacations, like Get Away Today. They often run specials including free days with a vacation booking or children’s pricing for adult tickets.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge – Purchase a 5-day Park Hopper Pass. The entrances to the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park face each other across a short esplanade, which makes Park Hopping possible within minutes! If you plan on staying longer than five days, consider investing in an Annual Pass, which will also give you discounts on select dining and merchandising.

Go for Broke – Book a Guided Tour and receive special access and behind-the-scenes peeks. Some tours offer special ride access or reserved viewing for certain shows.

Make it Rain – Request VIP Tour Services for your days in the Parks. You’ll have the assistance of a dedicated guide, reserved viewing/seating and more (all for an hourly rate).

5. Discount Dining

Pinch Your Pennies – Pack your own meals and snacks in a soft-sided cooler with a chill pack inside. Bring bottled water (or request ice water for free from any walk-up dining location). If you choose to dine inside the Park, choose meals that are large enough to share. We often purchase two different platters, request extra plates and share between us all. We pad out the meal with snacks (like cheese sticks or carrots) that we bring from home.

Check out more of my tips on saving money on food at Disneyland, how to pack your own food into the Parks and what are the best meals for sharing.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge– Make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) for some of the elegant dining experiences in the Park and Resort Hotels. At Blue Bayou Restaurant (Disneyland) guests dine waterside inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! Carthay Circle Restaurant (Disney California Adventure Park) offers alcoholic beverages and fine dining inside their bar/restaurant. Napa Rose (Grand Californian Resort and Spa) offers award-winning cuisine in an upscale setting. Enjoy breakfast or dinner at Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel) with a specialty in steaks and chops.

Snacks are sold throughout the Parks, many with adorable themes like these cute Olaf marshmallow treats or an enormous candied apple. Some of these premium snacks may set you back $5-10 each

.Should you pinch your pennies or break the bank for a Disney vacation?

Book a World of Color dining package at one of three participating Disney California Adventure Park restaurants and received a three-course prix-fixe meal and a voucher for reserved space at that night’s viewing of World of Color.

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

Character meals are one of the most fun family dining experiences you’ll have! Enjoy a bounty of food and get one-on-one photo ops with the characters as they visit your table. For breakfast only choose Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel), Chip n’ Dale Critter Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe (Grand Californian Resort and Spa) or Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn (Disneyland Park).

At Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant (Disney California Adventure Park) you can pick from breakfast or lunch and meet the Princesses throughout your meal. Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel) offers a rollicking breakfast or dinner, buffet-style.Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

6. Downtown Disney District

Like a long outdoor mall, Downtown Disney District has the Disneyland Hotel at one end and the esplanade to the two Parks at the other. In between are various restaurants, shops, concert venues, Monorail station (with direct access to Disneyland Park) and a side entrance to Disney’s Grand Californian Resort and Spa.

Pinch Your Pennies – Take in the ambiance and one of the free concerts that are hosted on weekend evenings. Play a bit at the Lego Store. Buy a sweet treat to share from Marceline’s Confectionary or a bag of kettle corn from a kiosk. After a bit of window shopping, hop on the Monorail and take a ride back into Disneyland Park (valid Park ticket required).

Should you pinch your pennies or break the bank for a Disney vacation?

Splurge – Young guests (ages 3-15) can visit Anna & Elsa’s Boutique for a frosty make-over. Moms can get their own make-up fix at Sephora. Make your own custom souvenir at Build-a-Bear Workshop or RideMakerz. Take in a concert at the House of Blues. Dine at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen or Catal Restaurant. I love a stop inside WonderGround Gallery for a peek at unique Disney-inspired artwork.

Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

7. PhotoPass or MaxPass

All throughout the Parks, Disney PhotoPass photographers offer their services to take photos of your family. They will use their camera and give you a scannable card that you’ll present to other Disney PhotoPass photographers. Once home, you can view and purchase images online from your trip!

Pinch Your Pennies – Hand your own camera to the Disney PhotoPass photographers and they will happily snap away…No charge!

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

Picture taken with my camera by a Disney PhotoPass Photographer

Splurge – Preorder Disney PhotoPass+ before your trip. Disney-themed enhancements can be added to your photos for whimsy. Once you return home you can check out your PhotoPass shots online and purchase photo gifts and books with the pictures from your magical vacation!

If you’d like to purchase all of your ride and in-park PhotoPass shots as well as book your FastPass via your mobile device, consider splurging on MaxPass for one or more of your Park days. The cost is $10 per guest, per day of your visit. This can truly add up, especially if you have a larger group and/or are staying for multiple days. Unfortunately in order to link everyone’s Park tickets to MaxPass you do have to purchase for each person who will be using the FastPass program. If you’re cutting costs, consider only purchasing MaxPass for one or two days of your vacation instead of every day.


8. Souvenirs

Souvenirs can be found throughout the Parks and in Downtown Disney in a wide range of costs for any budget (or lack of budget!).

Pinch Your Pennies – For a classic souvenir that respects your wallet try a pair of embroidered Mouse Ears! Pressed pennies are well-loved and you can display them in a shadow box as a trip memento. I like something practical that my kids can use trip after trip or can wear at home, like my son’s Pluto hat with the really long sun-shading brim. He wore this hat every visit to the Parks for years!

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?

Or skip the souvenir stand altogether and buy things ahead of time. Disney themed shirts can be had from the Disney Store for a great price. Purchase a cheap blank notebook and a pack of inexpensive stickers for character autographs (don’t forget the pen!) Buy glow sticks at the 99 cent store and present them to the kids in the evening. Bring your pre-bought goodies like lollipops, little stuffed animals or inexpensive trinkets to hand out to kids at the end of the day so they don’t have to shuffle past the souvenir stands empty handed.

I have more reasons why you should pre-purchase souvenirs before your Disney trip on this post.

 

Splurge – Take home a memento like an animation cell, giclee or Dooney & Bourke handbag and you’ll have a timeless treasure. If staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you can request that your purchases be sent directly to your hotel room. Handy if you’re in the Parks and don’t want to lug your souvenirs around.

9. Princess (or Prince) for a Day

Pinch Your Pennies– Does your child have a Disney-themed costume they love to wear? If your child is under the age of 10, they are permitted to wear costumes in the Park. So feel free to let your little Tinker Bell wear her pixie dress or your tiny Captain Hook wear his pirate hat! Create a cute hairstyle, toss a bit of glitter around and wear something fun and sparkly! Just make sure they are wearing comfy shoes; dress up shoes are simply not appropriate for walking in all day.

Splurge – Book your prince or princess (age 3-12 years) a date in the Bibbidi Bobbiti Boutique for a royal treatment. Gentleman become knights, complete with suave hairstyle and a shield and sword. Little ladies have more of a variety to choose from including a few treatments that will doll her up from the top of her glittery head to her glass-slippered toe!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Go for Broke – With the Castle Package (starting at just under $200), newly crowned princesses will be escorted in a mini-processional to skip the line at the Fantasy Faire and go directly in to meet with the Disney princesses inside.

 

10. Celebrations, Disney-Style

Pinch Your Pennies – Are you celebrating something, anything at the Parks during your visit? Visit Guest Relations inside either Park to request your complimentary birthday, anniversary, first visit or “I’m Celebrating!” button.

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

Splurge – Celebrate big days in style with the help of Disney specialists. Whether it be a Quinceanera, FairyTale Wedding or Vow renewal or anniversary you can have the celebration of your dreams!

Disney Floral & Gifts can help with delivery of flowers, gift baskets and presents to your Resort room. You can also order special cakes to be delivered for celebrations at your Resort dinner.

Looking for More Ways to Splurge on Your Disneyland Vacation?

Check out this post for ways to splurge on the kids (and a few more budgeting tips)


Let me know how you like to vacation – Do you pinch your pennies or break the bank? Let me know in the comments below!

Budgeting for Disney? Here are the ultimate tips on pinching pennies in the Park (and a few ways to splurge!)

 

 

 

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

You’re going to Disneyland! So where are you going to stay? The Disneyland Resort is located in the middle of the city of Anaheim and surrounded on all sides by hotels. Unlike Walt Disney World, where the resort is spread out by miles and miles, Disneyland is compact and very walk-able. This means you have tons of choices when it comes to choosing a hotel in the Disneyland area.

This breaks down to two different thoughts:

  • Stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel, which is “on-site”.
  • Or at any other Anaheim area hotel, which would be “off-site”.

Take a look at this  Disneyland Resort Hotels Map to better understand the area. With so many hotels in close proximity, you can definitely stay “off-site” and be able to walk to the front gate in ten minutes! Check out these tips for choosing between a Disneyland Resort hotel and a Good Neighbor Hotel.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Bunk beds at Disney’s Grand Californian

Disneyland Resort Hotels

There are three Disneyland Resort hotels, The Paradise PierThe Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

You’ll be immersed in all things Disney from the moment you step onto the property. The restaurants are Disney themed, the shampoo and hand lotion have Mouse Ears, everything from the bedding to the pictures on the walls will be Disney themed. And if you have a park view room, even what you see out the window will be Disney themed because it will overlook the parks!

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels

I have stayed at all three Disneyland Resort hotels and each one has their own charm. Check out these posts with in-depth reviews on each hotel (click the thumbnail)

Disneyland Hotel-PIN  Disneyland Resort Hotel Review  Paradise Pier-PIN

Good-Neighbors Hotels

Disney has an online list of Good Neighbor Hotels including a comparison chart. I have stayed at about 10 of these hotels. Some good (Some not so good!) Keep reading for the breakdown on choosing between a Disneyland Resort Hotel versus a Good Neighbor Hotel.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels

Here is a review of one Good Neighbor Hotel that we loved (click the thumbnail)

PIN-Anaheim Majestic

Hotel Rooms – What to Expect

What to expect of a Disneyland Resort (ON-SITE) hotel room: 

  • Disney Resort hotels each have a specific theme based on the resort. The Paradise Pier has a beach-theme, The Disneyland Hotel is classic and modern and the Grand Californian is in a Craftsman-style. There will be special Disney touches throughout like the Mickey hands holding the sconces in the bathroom or the subtle Mouse ear silhouettes on the wallpaper. Your room will have an interior hallway with guest room doors inside. Your room will be very clean and well-maintained. The pricing of Disneyland Resort hotels is at a premium.
Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Castle-themed room at Anaheim Majestic Gardens

What to expect of a Good Neighbor (OFF-SITE) hotel room:

  • Good Neighbor Hotels are offered in a range of prices, from “motels” to suites so there is something for every budget.
  • You aren’t going to see much Disney theming. You’ll have a standard, ordinary hotel room for the most part. Some of the rooms have views of fireworks at night and some of the hotels have special Disney themed spaces or rooms but generally these are just standard, regular looking hotel rooms.
  • Keep in mind that when choosing the less expensive, the guest rooms often have exterior doors to the outside and not interior hallways. Unfortunately this means that some of the carpets in these places are really dirty from park guests pounding pavement all day and then immediately walking inside their hotel room.
Shaking hands with Minnie at the Disneyland Hotel.

Shaking hands with Minnie at the Disneyland Hotel.

What are the differences between Resort or Good Neighbor Hotels?

Pricing-

The big difference you’ll see is the price. Depending on the season, you’re going to pay around $175-400 per night (or more) for an on-site Disneyland resort hotel room. Sometimes you can get a coupon code in the mail with special offers but those don’t happen frequently. For this price you’d think you’d be getting a suite, right? Resorts rooms are slightly larger than average and you do have seating areas, a large bathroom and likely a nice view but they are just normal rooms. I will say that on-site spaces and rooms are cleaner and better maintained than some of the off-site hotels and for my neat-nik husband, that’s worth the extra cost.

Kickin' it in the kiddie pool at the Paradise Pier Hotel.

Kickin’ it in the kiddie pool at the Paradise Pier Hotel.

Amenities

POOLS –

  • Most of the off-site pools are just standard pools, nothing more. I’ve not stayed there, but The Howard Johnson has a fun pirate-themed pool area.
  • Disney Resort hotels have amazing pools complete with water slides, hot tubs, fresh towels, swim diapers for babies, life-vests for toddlers, lots of lounging areas and pool-side dining & drink service. If you plan on using the pool on your vacation, consider paying a little more to stay at a site that has great water features!

Here are a few reviews on the Disneyland Resort pool areas and what you can expect (click the thumbnails)

PIN-Pools         Pool-PIN

DINING –

  • Most of the off-site hotels have restaurants within walking distance. Some have cafes and coffee shops in their lobbies. We stayed at the Anaheim Hilton a few years ago and while the hotel was lovely, there weren’t any kid-friendly restaurants (either in the hotel or within walking distance) and so we had a pizza delivered. Prices are going to be reasonable at off-site restaurants and you’ll have a lot more choices when you stray from the resorts.

Goofy's Kitchen

  • The Disney Resort Hotels each have several themed restaurants. We’ve eaten at the Paradise Pier’s restaurant several times for breakfast and there are some nice choices at the all-you-care-to-eat buffet along with characters visiting each table. Dining at The Disneyland Hotel‘s Goofy’s Kitchen was a real treat. You’ll have your picture taken together before you’re seated and the dinner buffet is truly delicious! A multitude of characters came to visit us all evening, it was a lot of fun. The dinner buffet at StoryTeller’s inside the Grand Californian was decadent, my husband is still talking about that one! All this good food and theming comes at a price however and the Resort restaurants have a premium cost, especially those that feature character dining.

Here is a dining review about eating at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (click the thumbnail)

Storyteller's Cafe

Location, location, location

Now, before you book any off-site hotel that boasts, “We’re RIGHT across the street!”, PLEASE look at this area hotel map for some of the local hotels.

Yes, some of the Good Neighbor hotels might really be just across the street from the resort but they aren’t across the street from the ENTRANCE GATE, which means you’ll still be walking a long distance to get to the entrance. And who wants to waste all their energy walking to get there…save those legs for inside the park! Let alone walking back to the hotel after a long day, forget about it.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Magical Little Details

The Disneyland website will lead you to believe that if you stay on-site, you are closer to the parks. The truth is that you will be close, but closer isn’t necessarily the whole truth. Many of the off-site hotels are literally right across the street with a 5 to 10 minute walk from the front gates.

Good-Neighbor Hotels:

  • If you plan on walking to the park from your hotel, I would recommend sticking to hotels on Harbor Blvd, namely the ones right in front of the park entrance. The Park Vue Inn and Tropicana Inn are literally across the street from the entrance. Any hotel on Katella or Ball is going to be a bit more of a hike.  I have stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites and it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to get to the entrance gates, not too bad. And once you get to the gate you’re home free. There are no trams to ride (like when you park at the garages). You simply walk to the bag check area and then in line to enter the park!
  • I’ve stayed at the Anaheim Hilton and while it looks like it would be close on a map, it’s still a good length walk. Keep in mind that if you drive from your hotel and park on Disney property, you will be parking off-site and need to take a tram (about a 5 minute ride) to get into the parks. Parking is pricey and tram waits can be really long (even longer at the end of the day when everyone is trying to get to their car) so I still recommend staying at a closer hotel and walking in. Or choose a hotel, like the Anaheim Majestic Gardens, that offers a free shuttle.
Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels

Interactive map of Disneyland inside the hotel.

Disney Resort Hotels:

  • If you stay at the Paradise Pier, it’s going to take a bit longer to get into the park. You need to walk past the Disneyland Hotel and then through Downtown Disney District. The Disneyland Hotel is closer but not by much, you still have to walk through Downtown Disney.

Two Shortcuts:

  1. Downtown Disney Monorail Station. Hitch a ride here and be deposited into the middle of the park with a quick ride. Note that the Monorail station can get really busy so you might be waiting there for 10-20 minutes to catch a ride and you will also have to fold up your stroller to get aboard. You don’t need to be resort guest to take the Monorail, but you do need a valid park ticket.
  2. At the Grand Californian, there is a private entrance for resort guests that will allow admission into Disney’s California Adventure park. You will be required to show your valid Key to the Magic (room key) to use this entrance. You will also need your valid park admission ticket.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Other Benefits to Staying On-Site at a Disney Resort:

  • A few years ago when we stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel, we were able to watch and hear the parade inside California Adventure from our window. Later that night, we went up onto the roof top, pulled up a pool chair and watched the Disneyland fireworks show. They even had the narration and music piped in over loudspeakers.
  • I paid extra for Concierge on one particular trip. This allowed us use of the Concierge lounge. We ate breakfast in the lounge, stocked up with drinks and snacks that we took to the pool in the afternoon, and had appetizers (they also serve wine) in the evening before dinner. When we got back to the room, there was a plate with Mickey shaped Rice Krispy Treats and fresh strawberries waiting for us. I really enjoyed the Concierge service and we did take advantage of the drinks and snacks. If it wasn’t quite so pricey, I’d consider it again. Also, all the rooms are the same so you do not receive a larger room with Concierge service.

Read more in this Traveling Mom post about the benefits of staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel (click the thumbnail)

https://www.travelingmom.com/2016/03/24/18-valuable-reasons-stay-disneyland-resort-hotel/

Other Benefits to Staying Off-Site:

  • A few of these Good Neighbor Hotels offer complimentary breakfasts or “happy hour” snacks. This might be as simple as cereal and milk with juice or as nice as make-your-own-waffles, fresh fruit, mini-chicken sandwiches and salad. Look at the hotel’s website and see what they offer as far as these extras. The Marriott Anaheim Residence Inn Maingate had a wonderful indoor/outdoor seating space with a nice complimentary serve-yourself breakfast including oatmeal, muffins and juice. We grabbed some apples and bananas to take with us to the Park!
Fantasyland Tower at Disneyland Hotel.

Fantasyland Tower at Disneyland Hotel.

The Bottom Line

  • Deciding on a hotel really comes down to what you want, how much time you’ll be spending at the room, how much you want to spend and how far you want to be from the park.
  • If you have the money and want the convenience of being close and appreciate high customer service, than by all means, stay on-site at an official Disneyland Resort hotel like The Paradise Pier, The Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian. The Extra Magic Hour and use of the fantastic pools might be enough to tip the scales.
  • If you are spending more than a few days in Anaheim and not just walking to Disneyland, consider an off-site suite which often has separate rooms. Getting a breakfast that is included in the cost is always nice too. I highly recommend the Marriott Anaheim Residence Inn Maingate, which was quite large and had a full kitchen.
  • Do you like to go back to your room in the afternoon for a nap or a swim-break? Consider either a Disney Resort hotel or one that is directly across the street so you can walk back and forth easily during the day. Either of these options is only about 10-15 minutes versus the 45-60 minutes it might take to get your car out of the lot and drive there or wait for a shuttle pick-up.
  • Though you can purchase Park tickets in the lobby at many of the Good Neighbor Hotels, I’d recommend purchasing upfront from Park Savers. You can save a few dollars this way as well (affiliate link).

Park Savers affiliate link

Do you prefer to stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel or branch out into the Good Neighbors? Share in the comments!

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