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?


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.



  • 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


  • 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)

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!



Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

Benefits of Staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel

What are the benefits of staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel? The Disneyland Resort is smack-dab in the middle of the city of Anaheim. Unlike Walt Disney World, where the resort is spread out by miles and miles, Disneyland is quite compact and very walk-able. This means you have tons of choices when it comes to choosing a hotel in the Disneyland area. What are the benefits of staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel (on-site) and why should you choose Disney when booking? I’ll break it down for you…


I had a momentary lapse into insanity when I booked us for two nights in the recently-renovated Disneyland Hotel for a trip in 2012.

“This hotel is connected to the park?”, says my husband.

Nope, that’s the Grand Californian and that would have been at least another $75 extra per night.

“Is it a suite?”

No, just a standard room. But I will definitely ask for an upgrade. I’ve always at least received a park-view room for the standard price when I ask for an upgrade. 

“But for that price, it includes breakfast, right?”

Uh, no…if you want a breakfast you buy the $40 a person buffet at Goofy’s Kitchen.

“Do we at least get a foot massage at the end of the day?”, he asks with a wink.

He’s joking at this point, of course.

The Frontier Tower at the Disneyland Hotel.

The Frontier Tower at the Disneyland Hotel.

  • There are three choices of Disneyland Resort Hotels in the Anaheim area…The Paradise Pier, The Disneyland Hotel and The Grand Californian Resort & Spa.
  • Yes, you are close to the Park entrances but truly there are hotels on the other side of the street that are also within walking distance and could be considered closer. The Grand Californian Resort & Spa has its own entrance to Disney’s California Adventure that any Disney Resort Guest can access by walking through the lobby. And access to the Monorail is close to the Disneyland Hotel as well. Otherwise it’s a brisk walk through Downtown Disney to get to the front gates.
  • The Disney touch for sure is a major selling point. The hotels, like the Parks, are well-cared for and maintained and I’ve never met any Cast Member (aka: Disney employee) that didn’t embody that spirit. I’ve heard otherwise online, but that’s the honest truth from me; I’ve experienced nothing but warmth and exceptional courtesy from all Disney Cast Members.


  • Probably one of the top benefits of staying at a resort hotel is the Extra Magic Hour. For each day of your resort stay, you are able to enter the parks (with valid ticket) one hour earlier than the general public. If you aren’t purchasing your tickets through a Disney Resort package, I’d recommend purchasing from Park Savers. You’ll save a few dollars on the tickets and save time at the gates on the first day. (affiliate link)  Please note that during Extra Magic Hour, only select attractions and shops are open, but it’s a great way to hit Fantasyland in Disneyland or CarsLand at Disney’s California Adventure before the lines are a mile long. You would be surprised at what could be accomplished in one line-free hour! Each Park has separate gate entrances for the Extra Magic Hour guests.

Extra Magic Hour Schedule

  • Using your Key to the Magic (room key) you can charge some Disney purchases onto your room account. I used it to purchase a yummy drink by the pool!

2013-10-02 21.33.03

  • And about those pools…we have actually booked an extra day at the resort to just stay and swim, we love these pools so much! All three resorts have great water slides, several pools to choose from as well as hot tubs. With the resorts so close, we usually take a mid-day swim break and return to the parks refreshed in the late afternoon. Read more in my post Disneyland Resort Hotel Swimming Pools – What to Expect of Your Fun in the Sun!
  • Don’t want to schlep that big bag of souvenirs through the park? Package Express will deliver any purchases made in the park directly to your room.
  • Schedule a free Character Wake Up Call. On our last trip I had Mickey call to wake up the kids so we could get into the parks early!
  • If you have a special occasion during your trip, as a hotel guest you may contact Disney Vacation Planning for Disney Dream Makers to bring a cake, balloons or a gift basket to your room. Costs for these are naturally, pricey.
  • Hotel guests can book their kids into Pinocchio’s Workshop, a child care facility on the grounds of The Grand Californian Resort & Spa for ages 5-12. For a fee, parents can enjoy a child-free evening in Downtown Disney.
  • There is an exclusive entrance at the Grand Californian Resort & Spa to enter the Disney’s California Adventure Park for Disneyland Resort guests only. Anyone (guest or not) can also hop on board the Monorail in Downtown Disney to get inside the Disneyland Resort (so long as you already have your paid ticket). We use this entrance frequently when we want to take a swim break mid-day.

Please check out Disneyland’s hotel overview online for comparisons and other benefits to staying at a resort.

And if you’re interested in staying off-site, please see my post Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels.