Planning a Disney trip can be fun but also stressful when you’re trying to figure out the easiest and cheapest solutions. So on Twitter (I make a lot of important decisions based on feedback there so make sure to follow), I asked if I should do planning guides for Disneyland and Disney World and many said yes! So every week I will take an aspect that’s important when planning a trip and explain all the options and my experiences.
This is not a sponsored series, this is solely based on my own experiences. I get a lot of people asking for recommendations so I decided to get detailed with it! I will be alternating between Disneyland and Disney World, so make sure to follow along! To kick this off I will be talking about something important and that’s where to stay! I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts and favorite places to stay, so let’s begin.
Paradise Pier Hotel
This is the only on-site hotel I have stayed at and it’s the cheaper of the three. It has a very laid back beach feel and has a direct view of California Adventure but still a bit more of a walk from the parks. If you want to stay on property but still want to stay in budget, this may be your best choice. There is character dining available at PCH Grill for breakfast and it was always a blast. From my experience though, I felt like rooms were a bit cramped, even when I got upgraded. Check it out here.
The classic hotel and one that will definitely get the magic going. This hotel will emerge you in everything Disneyland has to offer. The first on-site hotel, it’s the one with most history. Although it does sit at the end of Downtown Disney, the details and decor in this hotel will make it all worth it. The closest transportation is the monorail. I can’t say this enough, if you want to get the full magical experience, this is the hotel to stay at. It’s on the pricey end so it will be an investment. Check it out here.
Grand Californian Hotel
The newest of the three, this is the most beautiful, in my opinion. But it will cost you a pretty penny. It has a rustic, woodsy feel and features the Storytellers Cafe, which is cute for character dining. Grand Californian also has spas and a lot more activities to do when not in the parks. This hotel has direct access to California Adventure and sits at the center of Downtown Disney. If you’re looking for more of a luxurious touch to your trip, Grand Californian is the place to stay. Check it out here.
Pros of On-Site
- The Whole Disney Experience: The main reason to stay on-site. You get Disney magic the second you check it and have it even when you’re not in the parks.
- Extra Magic Hour: Stay on-site gives you access to the parks an hour early before they open for the public. Empty rides everywhere.
- Distance and Transportation: Being on-site means you can easily use monorails, shuttles, etc. to get from your hotel to the parks.
Cons of On-Site
- Price: One of the big cons is the price. Since rooms are limited and it’s a Disney hotel, it’s going to cost you.
- Availability: The Disneyland Resort only has 3 hotels (compared to WDW) so space runs out quickly if you don’t book in time.
- Extra Magic Hour Times: Only certain days offer this and it’s not for both parks. You either get Disneyland or DCA and depends on the day.
Park Vue Inn
This is located directly across the Harbor entrance to the park. You just cross the street and you’re there. That’s one of the biggest wins. When I stayed there, it was comfortable, low noise, and offered a free hot breakfast and wifi. Park Vue has set pricing, regardless of when you book, so it’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for deals. Check it out here.
Grand Legacy at the Park
From the places I have stayed in on Harbor, this has been the nicest. It recently got a revamp and it definitely worked. It’s luxurious and clean. There’s even a rooftop lounge, which is perfect for watching the fireworks. They offer many deals so keep your eyes peeled, especially if you’re a passholder, they have a special discount! However, housekeeping would leave my window open when they cleaned so I did have to let the front desk know. It’s also at the corner of the street (facing Tower of Terror) so it’s a bit more of a walk. Check it out here.
Desert Inn and Suites
This location is also pretty close to the Harbor entrance. If you have a big family, Desert Inn has pretty great joint room options and are surprisingly very spacious. One of the things I liked was that it has garaged underground parking so it feels safer. Prices and rooms vary, so you do have to look into booking early on. Check it out here.
Pros of Off-Site
- Assurance: Disneyland does have Good Neighbor Hotels so you can be assured that they’re good quality and you can save.
- Price: The best thing about staying off-site. There are plenty of options that can help you save.
- Calmness: Staying off-site is easier to avoid the crowds if you want to take a complete break.
Cons of Off-Site
- Distance: Probably one of the biggest cons. You will have to walk across the street or take a shuttle if your hotel offers it.
- Not the Whole Experience: staying at a local hotel means you won’t be immersed in Disney magic. The Anaheim convention center is close by so you’ll have a lot of different people.
- Walking: If you want to take a break during your day, you will have to walk back to your hotel, which takes time of your day or just adds more stress if you forget something.
Do you prefer to stay on-site or off? What’s your favorite hotel?