Ramada Plaza Anaheim Review

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Ramada Plaza Anaheim is near Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that’s nicer than many budget hotels in Anaheim. This hotel review features room photos, thoughts on amenities, and a look at the pros and cons of staying at Ramada Plaza Anaheim. It also covers how you can score a deal on the hotel and its quality as compared to close competitors in the area that are similarly-situated.

The story here is one of squandered potential. Ramada Plaza Anaheim, overall, is a solid hotel and one I would recommend. The unfortunate thing is that it could be near the top of my rankings, but for some missteps. The sad thing is that it stumbles in what I consider to be basic and unexpected ways, while excelling in areas you might not expect. For Disney fans, I think a good analogy is Epic Mickey. The game has flashes of brilliance, is loaded with detail, and has stunning environments, but the camera and controls absolutely suck. (How do you not get these most basic things right?!)

Ramada Plaza Anaheim is not a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel, but that’s a meaningless distinction that (I think) is based on paying for the ‘certification’, anyway. If you want to know how Ramada Plaza Anaheim stacks up to the competition in my opinion (which is based on the perspective of someone who has stayed in 30+ hotels near Disneyland), check out our Disneyland Hotels Reviews & Rankings post. You can also read our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

Want to learn more about Ramada Plaza Anaheim and see some room photos? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa Review

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Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs is a hidden gem of a hotel. This review covers my recent stay at the hotel, featuring photos of rooms and hotel amenities. While Buena Vista Palace dates back to the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village days of Walt Disney World, making it a “Vacation Kingdom of the World” relic, it most certainly is no longer a “relic,” with recent refurbishments making it one of the trendier hotels in all of Walt Disney World.

This is undoubtedly a shocking proclamation given that the hotel is “only” a third party hotel official partner hotel near Disney Springs. There are numerous Disney Deluxe hotels that cost exponentially more and should be trendier, but I think it’s a fair statement. Moreso in terms of the rooms, which feel modern and well-designed, than in the common areas, which feel mixed in terms of age.

Actually, upon approaching Buena Vista Palace from Disney Springs, you are greeted by a tall art deco-ish building that definitely looks like something out of a bygone era (I mean the 1980s…not 1920-40s). Walking along the trails to the lobby you see Recreation Island, with both a large pool but also buildings reminiscent of that era. Then there’s the main building, which is also a mix of old and new. The lobby is nice and looks like it was refreshed in the last few years, but other areas look older. Up to this point, it feels like the hotel is a bit of a mix of old and new.

Then, you get to those rooms. There’s nothing mixed about them. Let’s take a look… (more…)

Stanford Inn & Suites Review

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Stanford Inn & Suites is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel for budget travelers located near Disney California Adventure and just beyond the Anaheim Convention Center. This review includes photos of the hotel rooms, thoughts about our experience of staying here, and to whom I’d recommend this hotel.

Sometimes, a hotel totally defies expectations. This is most definitely the case with Stanford Inn & Suites. I stayed here a couple of weeks after Alamo Inn & Suites, and based upon the location (we’ll get to that) I was absolutely expecting the worst. It probably couldn’t be worse than the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, at least. A pretty low threshold, but sometimes a little perspective is helpful.

I only stayed here because I have a serious case of self-loathing, and wanted to see just how scary it was. Not really. Actually, I saw it for a really low price on Hotel Tonight, and reviews on TripAdvisor put it as the #15 hotel in Anaheim. Having unfortunate experiences at other highly-ranking hotels, I was apprehensive, but I figured what the heck. YOLO, amirite? (Sorry, that will never happen again.)

Per its own website (but not the Disneyland listing page), Stanford Inn & Suites is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels. Honestly, I have been listing this categorization in these reviews because people seem to care, but it’s totally meaningless. Hotels can pay for the distinction to be a Good Neighbor, and then pay more to be on the Disneyland page. I think it’s all about the money, and not being inspected and “certified” by Disneyland or anything of that sort.

If you want to know how Stanford Inn & Suites actually stacks up to the competition (at least in my opinion), check out our Disneyland Hotels Reviews & Rankings post. I can assure you none of the hotels there are featured based upon payment to us (although if some Disneyland-area hotel wants to offer us a boatload of money, I’m sure something can be arranged! 😉 )

Stanford Inn & Suites most definitely was not as awful as I expected. But, that doesn’t mean it comes highly recommended… (more…)

Disney World Hotel Reviews

Thinking about staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, but not sure which is right for you? In our Disney hotel reviews, we share the strengths and weaknesses of each hotel, give our opinion as to whether they are worth the money, and offer an idea of what type of guests (families, honeymooners, commando tourists, etc.) will like or dislike each hotel. Note that these are reviews of Walt Disney World-area hotels in Florida. For Anaheim accommodations, read our Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings post. 

Each full Walt Disney World hotel review contains photos from the hotels, including room photos and photos of main areas of the hotel, to give you an idea of whether the decor of the rooms and the theme of the hotel will appeal to you. In addition to this, the reviews offer Walt Disney World resort hotel tips, information about amenities, and dining recommendations at the hotels.

We have stayed at every on-site hotel at Walt Disney World, so unlike many hotel review sites that crowd-source or aggregate information from other sources leading to inconsistent ratings or uninformed “opinions”, our reviews are all first-hand accounts of our personal stays at each of the hotels at Walt Disney World. You may totally disagree with our opinions, but at least you’re getting the actual opinions of the same two people who have stayed at each of the hotels.

We are missing full reviews for a couple of Walt Disney World hotels because we either forgot to take room photos of the hotel or last stayed at the hotel before we started taking room photos (hey, how many of you take hotel room photos?!). Additionally, Disney has been aggressively refreshing its hotel rooms in the last year or so, and we haven’t yet had a chance to stay in every new room and update the photos. Our goal is to have this completed by early 2015.

Off-site and third party hotels at Walt Disney World like the Swan & Dolphin, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels, and other similar hotels are next on our list of places to start staying at and reviewing, so check back regularly and stay tuned for those reviews.

Below we have blurbs with quick-hit pros and cons of each Walt Disney World hotel if you just want basic information. If you want to know more about each hotel and see Walt Disney World hotel photos, click the name of the hotel to go to its full review! (more…)

Disneyland Area Hotel Reviews & Rankings

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This post ranks & reviews the best and worst hotels near Disneyland, with pros & cons for each. Room photos, average prices, parking & WiFi charges, breakfast info, walking distance to the parks times, and other info is also included. Basically, my opinions on the hotel, plus all of the important objective details that will matter most if you’re planning a vacation to Disneyland Resort. Think of this as the ultimate guide to determine which hotel you should pick once you’ve determined whether you want to stay on-site or off-site during your trip to Anaheim.

These rankings are based upon my firsthand experience through actual stays of at least 1-night at the hotels. I think this is the only guide on the internet that ranks so many Anaheim hotels from the perspective of one individual who actually stayed at them. Every other resource like this is crowd-sourced (and thus lacking consistency) or cobbled together by someone with indirect experience (meaning they visited the hotels but didn’t stay there, or are basing their ranks on second-hand info).

I note this because I’m–frankly–pretty proud of this guide. A lot of time was spent staying at these hotels and putting this together and I think it will be pretty helpful. But maybe that’s all just my ego talking. For what it’s worth, I’ve been working on this for a while, and it is still a work in progress with more hotels on my list of places to review and to stay. However, if I keep putting off publishing this until I stay at and review “enough” places, it’ll never be done. I think it’s a pretty useful resource now even as a work in progress.

In fairness, there is something to be said for crowd-sourced reviews. While I don’t put a ton of stock into TripAdvisor due to selection bias and because the general public can be unreliable (I guess that’s a polite way of saying that some people on TripAdvisor have bad opinions), it’s a useful baseline. Equally as important, it offers a consensus and different perspective. Like anyone, I have my personal preferences, and there’s always the possibility that I’ll fixate on something in a review that wouldn’t matter to you. To that end, I’m including the TripAdvisor rank as one of the items mentioned in my review.

The other info below the synopsis in each review is pretty self-explanatory. Parking, WiFi, and breakfast status are all key factors for many booking a hotel near Disneyland, and whether each of these things is free varies from hotel to hotel, and can turn a good value into a great value, or make it not-so-good.

What probably isn’t so self-explanatory is “Hotel Tonight” status. I’ve been plugging this app a ton in my reviews of the hotels that are typically featured in the Hotel Tonight app (download the app here), and that’s because it’s the most economical way to book any of them. Unlike Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire, and other price-slashing options, you actually know which hotel you’re getting with Hotel Tonight–which is important to me since the “zones” on the blind-booking sites around Disneyland are so large that you may not get a hotel within walking distance.

The “catch” or downside to Hotel Tonight is that you can only book up to 7 days in advance, with the best deals coming 1-2 days in advance. Still, I’ve used it to book and review 12 of the hotels in these rankings. I highly recommend it if you’re comfortable waiting until the last minute (there is always availability for hotels within walking distance, so you’re not going to end up without a hotel if you wait), and you can save $25 on your first booking with my referral code: TBRICKER1.

I think that about covers it in terms of background. Let’s check out the rankings… (more…)

Desert Palms Hotel & Suites Review

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Desert Palms Hotel & Suites is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel right behind Disney California Adventure and across from the Anaheim Convention Center. This review includes photos of the hotel, plus thoughts about our experience of staying here.

One of the most important considerations when choosing a hotel near Disneyland might be location, and even though Desert Palms Hotel is slightly farther than the hotels right across the street on Harbor Boulevard, it has a solid location at the corner of Katella and Harbor, right by 7-11 and the CVS Pharmacy, making Desert Palms a solid option if you don’t mind a 10 minute or so walk to the Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Desert Palms Hotel & Suites is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels, and is classified by Disney as “Suites,” which is interesting given that Desert Palms has suites, but is mostly normal hotel rooms. It’s probably better classified as a “Moderate”, as is the case with most of the off-site hotels. You can get an idea of how Desert Palms stacks up to the competition in our Disneyland Hotels Reviews & Rankings post. Get an idea of our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

Desert Palms Hotel & Suites is one of those places that doesn’t leave a strong impression either way, but it’s still a perfectly fine hotel… (more…)