How to Choose the Best Disneyland Resort Hotel

Three fun family hotels are located within the Disneyland Resort theme park complex in Anaheim, California. Although they may charge more than some local chains, guests receive privileges such as one-hour early admission to both Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure Park (early entry to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is not available at this time); special breakfast opportunities with Disney characters for a fee; guest rooms themed to a special occasion for a fee; wakeup calls from your favorite characters; access to preferred dining reservations and more through the concierge; hotel guest-only activities and a convenient location that’s closest to the parks so little ones can get “home” for a mid-day nap. Here’s our 2016 video review of the family rooms offered by each of the three Disneyland hotels.

Keep in mind that all Disneyland Resort Hotels are within walking distance of each other, so the convenience to Downtown Disney’s broad array of shops and restaurants makes it easy to dine out. Check the Disneyland Resort site or each hotel’s nightly newsletter for info on early admission to the park for registered guests of each hotel, as days and hours vary by season.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel

Snow White reads to children at Disneyland Resort character breakfast
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures is a one-of-a-kind morning at the Napa Rose Restaurant, Grand Californian Hotel, that includes story time, a private portrait location and premium keepsakes. Photo by Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
1600 South Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA  92802
714/635-2300, 714/956-MICKEY
This hotel, located next to the “Disney California Adventure” park is the most luxurious and expensive of the three, and reflects overall architecture and decor theming in the Craftsman style that blends seamlessly with the theme park.  With over 948 room and suites, this grand resort celebrates the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century in California. The impressive lobby offers cozy seating areas and a roaring fireplace. There’s a TV lounge playing Disney classics all day with seating for little ones who have become restless waiting to check in. There’s also daily storytelling. Room configurations include two queen beds, one king bed or one queen with bunkbeds; most rooms have balconies and all have a coffeemaker and fridge. In addition to Concierge Level rooms and suites with added pampering and a lounge for snacks etc, this hotel comprises 50 one-, two- and three-bedroom units (three bedrooms sleep 12!) that are great for family reunion groups.

Swimming and waterplay can be enjoyed at the Redwood Pool with a 100-foot water slide, the quieter Fountain Pool and the Mariposa pool. There is also a fitness center and a spa for some parental pampering. Check the resort’s daily activities program when you check in and you may want to join a Yoga or Speed Walking class as we did, free of charge. Note that when a conference is in house, this hotel’s public spaces get very busy but service remains high, which is a hallmark of this hotel. Childcare is available for a fee at Pinocchio’s Workshop (the supervised kids area used by all Disneyland hotel guests), where kids play games, watch videos, do arts’n’crafts and enjoy storytime under the care of a trained staff. There are four on-site eateries from very casual to a grab n’ go snack cafe and the award-winning Napa Rose restaurant.

Disneyland Hotel

Disneyland Hotel guest room.
Disneyland Hotel’s stunning headboards use fiber optics to create a magical skyline with fireworks. Photo by Scott Brinegar/Disneyland.

Disneyland Hotel
1150 Magic Way
Anaheim, CA  92802
714/778-6600, 714/956-MICKEY
This is the first hotel to have the Disney name attached to it and after extensive renovation it remains a premier place to stay. There are 973 rooms in three blue glass, energy efficient towers. Guests can choose from the Adventure Tower, which reminds fans of the Jungle Cruise ride; the Fantasy Tower which pays homage to “It’s a Small World” with its teacup shaped furniture; and the Frontier Tower with the scale model of Big Thunder Mountain in the lobby. Rooms are spacious with subtle Disney and Mickey touches throughout. Headboards are decorated with Sleeping Beauty’s castle and glow with “fireworks” at the touch of a button. Concierge Level rooms deliver all-day snacks, evening drinks and a concierge to assist guests with their needs. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom suites; ultra deluxe suites are individually themed after pirates, princesses and explorers and are much more tasteful than what we’re used to seeing.

The super pool complex offers the Monorail Pool with two monorail-themed waterslides, a variety of hot tubs and evening outdoor movies. For a fee, poolside cabanas offer WiFi, a fridge and a flat-screen TV. Amenities include a video arcade and a workout center, and access to Pinocchio’s Workshop, the supervised, end-of-day Kids Club at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Check the resort’s daily activities program as families can partake in complimentary activities at any of the three resorts. Meal options are varied and start with Goofy’s Kitchen where characters greet you. The lower level Steakhouse 55, suited to a night out for mom and dad, is considered one of Orlando’s finest steakhouses. Do not miss the crazily themed Tangaroa Terrace Restaurant (good island fare, casual with aloha music and special effects), and Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, where the bartenders can trigger hurricanes, volcanoes, tidal waves… any catastrophe to accompany your beverage of choice. Note: No matter which tower you choose, after hours your family can head to the lounge at the Adventure Tower for a great view of the fireworks display.

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel has a great view of the parks’ fireworks from its rooftop pool deck. Photo c. Disneyland

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
1717 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
714/999-0990, 714/956-MICKEY
Casual is the word of the day at Paradise Pier, Disney’s 15-story hotel with a SoCal beach and boardwalk theme. The spacious 481 contemporary rooms and suites offer comfort, cute beachball plush pillows and bathrooms to spread out in. Located adjacent to “Disney’s California Adventure”, many rooms have direct views of the theme park and nightly fireworks; the rooftop deck also has great views of the fireworks. Lots of casual dining includes “Surf’s Up!” Breakfast Buffet with Mickey & Friends. There is a large rooftop pool with sundeck and a workout room, the Paradise Theater showing Disney films and TV shows and Flounder’s Fun’n’Games Video Arcade. Check the resort’s daily activities program as families can partake in complimentary activities at any of the three resorts. Adults looking for group childcare at night may avail themselves of Pinocchio’s Workshop (for a fee) at the Grand Californian Hotel. To many families, it is the best value in the park; check their site for rate information.

Note: Read more about other family-friendly hotels and resorts in Anaheim, California which work with Disney to provide shuttle service and discount park tickets. They can be up to 50% less during certain seasons.

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