A little weary from our 3 day camping trip in the desert, our scruffy bunch rolled up to the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel. We were greeted with the most friendly and cheerful welcome from the moment we walked up to reception. In a blink of an eye, we had been magically transported to a different planet. Was it the air? Was it the light? Was it the music? Maybe it was the ever-smiling cast members. I couldn’t say for sure. However, what I do know is that from the moment we walked into the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel a spell fell upon our 5 and 7 year olds; they had become intoxicated with some happy potion.
I hadn’t stayed at a Disneyland Resort hotel since I was five. My memories of that experience are fuzzy except for one snapshot of waiting with great anticipation for the then state of the art monorail to arrive. As a parent, I had often wondered – was it really worth the premium to stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel? There was only one way to find out. I decided it was time to immerse ourselves in the full Disneyland experience by booking ourselves for a 3 day stay at the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel. Here’s my take on why a splurge for the full Disney experience is worth it.
1) Let your family be transported to another world.
While going to Disneyland does not require clearing immigration (unless the U.S. is not your home), one of the reasons Disneyland is such a draw is that it’s an escape to a world of it’s own. It’s a world skillfully crafted by Walt and his imagineers, where everything has a happy ending. Thrills and fun are your only preoccupation and everything is bright, beautiful, and perfect. Staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel allows that experience to begin from the moment you check in and last until you check out and leave Disneyland Resort property.
Check out the pool at the Disneyland Hotel! Even when you’re splashing with the kids in the pool, you’ll be surrounded by your favorite Disney characters and scenes that spark the imagination. The Disneyland Hotel pool is currently under renovation and I can’t wait to see it when it’s done. Beyond having Mickey Mouse ears on the toiletries, each Disneyland Resort hotel offers the same impeccable level of service we all admire in the parks. Do these cast members ever stop smiling? Have you noticed that even trash magically finds it’s way into trash cans on it’s own? Even when you travel between the park and hotel, or lay your head to rest at night, you never leave that happy world that is Disneyland.
Our experience at Disney Paradise Pier was just that. We were lucky enough to be booked into a junior suite with a spectacular view of Paradise Pier in California Adventure. Every time we returned to our room, we found ourselves gazing at the happy people riding around in Mickey’s Fun Wheel or blasting their way around the Screamin’ California. The first time we walked into our surf themed room our 5 and 7 year old spontaneously exclaimed – I love it here! They hadn’t even been into Disneyland yet.
Read Reviews of the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel
2) Disneyland Resort hotels understand families like the backs of their hands
Families are king at any Disney. Even at their luxury property – The Grand Californian, the atmosphere though certainly grand, is definitely relaxed. The cast members at Paradise Pier didn’t just welcome us parents, they greeted each of our children and made them feel that this was their special vacation right from the start. Some rooms at the Grand Californian even have bunk beds for kids who just love sleeping in them.
At the Paradise Pier Hotel, they have set up every room to be able to accommodate 5 people with the inclusion of a twin size day bed, even in standard rooms. Disney understands how costly travel for larger families can be. Just like the theme parks, the rooms at the Paradise Pier Hotel were impeccably clean, comfortable and spacious. Disney understands what families are looking for and makes sure even the smallest details are paid attention, including no sharp corners on furniture.
At all three Disney properties, every room comes with a crib. If you’re looking for a separate bedroom and living space, or traveling with grandma and grandpa, each property offers one or two bedroom suites. At the Grand Californian, you can even book a villa that sleeps up to 9 people, perfect for two families traveling together. Families can to share some common living space and enjoy the facilities of a kitchen.
3) Primo location means you don’t need a car for your entire visit.
“What are perks that make a difference to you? Definitely convenience! Staying onsite at Disneyland makes it so easy to get to the two theme parks.” – says WhiteGloveTravel, a Trekaroo Superoo and travel agent specializing in Disney vacations.
All the Disneyland Resort hotels have the best locations, being either attached to the theme parks or within a 5 minute walk to anywhere you might want to be during your visit. The Disney Grand Californian is attached to Disney California Adventure. The Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel are across the street, and within a block of Downtown Disney where the monorail station takes guests directly into Disneyland. You can park your car for your whole stay or opt to hire a shuttle from an LA area airport and avoid renting a car entirely.
The ease of getting to and from the theme parks and your hotel not only saves on time, but allows families to rest little bodies in the middle of the day so that everyone can enjoy the night time festivities in the parks. If you get soaked, it’s easy enough to head back to the hotel to change. It means mom and dad don’t have to lug around a huge bag of emergency “what if” supplies.
4) Magic Mornings Are Really Nice Perk!
All Disneyland Resort guests get to take advantage of Magic Mornings. On Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, hotel guests can enjoy some rides in Disneyland crowd free for an hour before the main gate opens at 10am. Instead of standing in line at the main entrance, you can just hop on the monorail at Downtown Disney and get whisked right into Tomorrowland. All guests also get to enter Disney California Adventure via the Grand Californian entrance. This means you’re first in line for fast pass tickets to the World of Color Show and can be first in the line for your first ride of the day.
Regarding some of the other perks, Trekaroo member arial shares, “Staying off property you miss out on some nice perks like package delivery to your hotel and early entrance to the parks. Also a little known secret is that the front desk will give you a helium filled mickey balloon just for asking if you are a guest at their hotel. My girls love this, everyday they would get a new balloon or two.”
All in all, our stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel was simply delightful. The fun relaxed atmosphere, wonderful service, and nice extras were well appreciated. While there certainly are other off-site hotels that will be kinder to your pocket book, if it’s your first time to Disney, getting the full Disney experience is a nice splurge that’s well worth it. You might also consider choosing the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel over the Grand Californian if budget is a concern. Even with its more affordable rates, you’ll still have a truly delightful Disney experience.
Trekaroo member filmdncr sums up her perspective:
“To sum up, if you have the extra money, I think there are some perks (like Magic Mornings, some stress free relaxing time) that are awesome, but if you are trying to save anywhere you can, stay off site, take a shuttle in and use the extra cash to buy a nice character meal, even at one of the hotels.”
Read more varied perspective from the Disney lovin’ families on Trekaroo about Why or Why it isn’t worth it to stay at Disneyland Resort Hotel
- Reviews of the Disney Paradise Pier Hotel
- Reviews of Disney Grand California Hotel and Spa
- Reviews of Disneyland Hotel
- 2011 Disney Deals
- Reviews of Disneyland and Disney California Attractions
- Reviews of Hotels Near Disneyland
LiLing Pang is CEO and Co-founder of Trekaroo – a reviews website dedicated to exploring and traveling with kids.