Looking to stay at a hotel on your next trip to Disneyland? You probably fall into one of two categories when it comes to this. Either you're just looking for a cheap place to crash (probably better off staying at a "Good Neighbor" Hotel) or you're looking for the full Disney experience on your vacation (and don't mind spending a little extra to get it). If you're looking for a magical Disney-filled getaway, the Disneyland Hotel is one of your best options to consider (and in our opinion, it's THE best). We've stayed there at least 5 times and every time we've absolutely loved it. Want to know why? Here are our ten favorite things about the resort - check 'em out!
1. The Disney Magic + History
The Disneyland Hotel was the first hotel built on property and, as a result, it's filled with Disneyland history and memorabilia. Because it was built in the fifties, it also still has a little bit of that mid-century modern feel to it, which is awesome.
When you first enter the hotel, there's a giant animated map of the Disneyland park.
The lobby has a modern feel but it's also got some Disney whimsey with some teacup seating areas featured in the mid-ground of the photo below. If you're lucky, you may also see some of Mickey's pals when you check-in as well!
Closer to the convention center, there's an enormous case of Disneyland memorabilia. We love to check out all of the historic merchandise!
Outside two of the restaurants located in that same building is one of the cars from the Tomorrowland Raceway.
The pool has a monorail themed slide.
And the three towers of the hotel are themed! The main tower with the front desk & shops is Fantasyland themed while the other two are Frontierland and Adventureland themed. Each tower lobby is decorated specifically to the theme and, throughout the hallways where the guest rooms are located, there are also related images and memorabilia that reference the theme. Can you guess which one is our favorite?
Everywhere you look there are photos, memorabilia, and magical touches sprinkled around the resort property. It is really as if this hotel is an extension of the Disneyland park itself and that alone is a great reason to stay here!
2. The Tropical Vibes
Ok, yes, we're biased - we love anything tropical/tiki! And luckily for us, the Disneyland Hotel features quite a few tropical elements. Many of the buildings have a very "island" feel and two dining locations on site, Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam's, are undeniably linked to Adventureland. In terms of landscaping, this resort really makes you feel like you're on a tropical getaway. Even if we're not staying here, we love walking around the property to soak it all in!
3. The DINING
We've eaten at every single restaurant at the resort and there are a lot of options worth checking out! There's really something for everyone on property.
For those of you who have been to Chef Mickey's in Florida, this is basically the West Coast equivalent. We went to Goofy's Kitchen for my little sister's birthday breakfast and it was really fun. This is a table service buffet restaurant where characters walk around and visit all the tables as you eat. Obviously this is super special for kids since they get great one-on-one time with the crew, but many adults really enjoy the Disney magic as well. Another bonus: on our visit, the food was great. The buffet offered some really unique dishes, all of which were super tasty.
Steakhouse 55 is a more upscale, table service restaurant offering, you guessed it, steakhouse menu items. The styling is old school Hollywood, much like Carthay Circle restaurant, but with a darker feel. The food we got here was delicious but you have to be prepared to basically order everything ala carte. Unlike other restaurants that offer standard plated meals, you choose the type of steak/protein you want and the sides that you choose to accompany it come separately. We found that the bill can get pretty hefty here, so be prepared!
Tangaroa Terrace is the Disneyland Hotel's counter service restaurant. This spot offers standard staples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as quite a few menu items with island flair. We've enjoyed the food here so much that we'll often eat here instead of at the counter service restaurants in the parks.
The Coffee House
Oh, and there's also a little coffee shop with pastries called The Coffee House. It's nothing more than that really. Room service is also available - an added bonus if you just want to kick back and relax!
4. Trader Sam's
Trader Sam's is another restaurant on property but we're putting it in its own category because it is an extremely unique and magical place that shouldn't be missed regardless of whether or not you actually stay at the Disneyland Hotel. First and foremost it's a tiki bar but it should be noted that Trader Sam's also offers food (many menu items are similar to/the same as those served at Tangaroa Terrace) AND it's kid friendly! For those of you with little ones, they are allowed inside (just not at the bar counter) and there are even kids souvenir cups with non-alcoholic beverages that they can enjoy.
The drinks are excellent, the bar offers an assortment of collectible mugs (which are very reasonably priced), and the atmosphere cannot be beat. The whole place is decked out from floor to ceiling and many of the elements inside have been inspired by attractions in Adventureland such as the Jungle Cruise (where you can meet Trader Sam himself) and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
When you order certain drinks, the bar comes to life. There's thunder and lightning, chanting, a sinking ship in a bottle, an exploding volcano - well, you get the point. It's awesome. Truth be told, this was the tiki bar that really got us hooked on all things tiki.
5. The Rooms
The rooms at the Disneyland Hotel combine contemporary furnishings with the magic of the Disney parks. Themed touches are incorporated into the rooms in subtle ways and the headboards even light up and play music! Out of all the Disney hotels, we feel that this one really puts more of a modern sense of luxury in its rooms.
One great feature are the floor to ceiling windows in each room. We've often enjoyed great views of the pool and landscaping and on, some occasions, we've been able to see the fireworks from our room. You can play the music for the shows on your television set so you can hear what the guests are listening to in the park right from the comfort of your own room!
6. The Pool
While we're not known to hang out by the pool, we've got to say that the pool on property is pretty cool. It's huge and takes up almost the whole center of the resort. It's surrounded by lush tropical landscaping and, for younger ones, there's a great monorail-themed waterslide. My little sisters had an absolute blast on it!
7. Proximity to Downtown Disney & the Other Disney Hotels
Downtown Disney and the two other Disney hotels (The Grand Californian and Paradise Pier Hotel) are just steps away from this hotel which is really nice for anyone looking to shop, go to the movies, explore around, or try out other unique dining experiences. Some of our favorite nearby restaurants are Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. At the Grand Californian, Napa Rose is an excellent spot for a fancy and delicious dinner!
8. Easy Access to the Parks
Ok, so there are two shortcuts that we've found are great for beating traffic at the front gates leading into the parks. While these shortcuts will definitely save you some time, they're not really ideal if you're heading into Disneyland or California Adventure for the first time on your trip since they don't land you right at the magical park entrances that have been designed so well.
The Disneyland shortcut can be found by using the monorail located in Downtown Disney. For those of you who have only been to Walt Disney World, it's worth noting that this monorail drops you off in Tomorrowland - not right outside the park gates. While this is convenient for anyone looking to beat the front gate crowds, taking the monorail in does mean you'll miss out on a stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. (the one with that epic castle reveal).
To head into California Adventure, you can cut through the Grand Californian to access the resort-only entrance which situates you in Grizzly Peak. Again, you don't get the whole park entrance experience but you do beat the crowds. They do check for room keys here so anyone not staying on property will be denied access.
And for anyone just looking to go straight to the park entrances, they're just a short(ish) walk through Downtown Disney!
9. Extra Magic Hours
Along with easy access to the parks, staying at a Disney hotel also means EARLY access to the parks. Without a doubt getting into the parks early means you'll tackle a bunch more rides than the average Joe. Also, because Disneyland has such high attendance from locals & passholders, many guests don't make it to the park until a few hours after opening. We've found that extra magic hours at Disneyland are any even bigger perk than the ones at Disney World. You basically get the park to yourself (and the other on-property guests who also managed to roll out of bed in time)!
10. The Value
Disneyland Hotel is the middle of the road hotel offered on property. The Grand Californian is the more "luxurious" option but we don't feel that the price point is really worth it. The cheapest Disney option is Paradise Pier. It was previously owned before Disney renovated it and made it their own...and it feels that way. It's lacking a lot of the Disney magic and grandeur that the other two locations offer. In our opinion, it's way worth the extra money to stay at the Disneyland Hotel over this option. For these reasons, the Disneyland Hotel is the best in terms of value out of the three options.
It's worth noting, as we mentioned earlier, If you're really on a budget, it's probably worth staying off property at one of the nearby (and much cheaper) non-Disney hotels. We recommend looking at the options just outside the park gates along Harbor Blvd. Many of them are very nice but your experience won't be as magical overall (this matters much less if you plan on maxing out your time in the parks).
Thinking of booking a Disneyland vacation and/or want to make sure you keep this hotel in mind? Pin this post for later!