Disneyland Hotel Review


Disneyland Hotel is the original hotel at Disneyland Resort, and although it’s not the flagship hotel at Disneyland Resort (that distinction belongs to the Grand Californian Hotel), like the Grand, it has a AAA four-diamond rating. It’s essentially a modern, luxury hotel with Disney design touches, but without any escapist themed design. Instead, Disneyland Hotel is themed to “Disneyland,” with its three towers representing Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland.

It may not be the flagship hotel, but it’s our favorite Disney hotel in the United States. I consider Disneyland Hotel to be a lot like “Remember… Dreams Come True!,” the perfect self-referential tribute that excels because of how its treatment of the legacy of Disneyland, but is pretty impressive in its own right. This is truly no easy task, and it’s so easy to go for cheap plays on emotion (liberal use of Walt Disney’s likeness, for instance) rather than creating a quality product that successfully merges great elements of the past with a quality contemporary product, but Disney nailed it when they re-designed the Disneyland Hotel. As it stands, the hotel is a great mix of modern design and retro details.

Now, in fairness, this is not something I would want to see out of every Disney hotel. I am a sucker for themed design, and I love how other Disney resort-hotels manage to transport guests to different times and places through the execution of the hotel. Disneyland Hotel is not themed, it’s decorated. If every Disney hotel were simply a luxury hotel with tributes to the past, it would get old quickly. However, this is the only one, and it executes perfectly on the concept.

Admittedly, I’m a big fan of the history of Disneyland. I’ve been fascinated by Disneyland Hotel since reading Donald Ballard‘s Disneyland Hotel: the Early Years and his follow-up Disneyland Hotel: 1954-1959 (warning: these books are for serious geeks, not casual fans). These books gave me a great appreciation for the hotel even before we ever stayed there, and Mr. Ballard’s presentation on Disneyland Hotel at this year’s D23 Expo was actually a highlight of the weekend for me! Although much has changed at Disneyland Hotel since its early days, it still just feels like a special place thanks to its roots dating back to the Wrathers family and the opening years of Disneyland.

However, it’s not just the hotel’s many nods to Disney history (I wonder how frequently they have to replace the awesome paper-goods in the room because guests take them?) that earn it high marks from us. The hotel is also flat out nice.

disneyland-hotel-room-photo

In terms of rooms, all of Disneyland Hotel rooms were recently refurbished, and they look great. From the pretty and thick carpet to the textured wallpaper to the bedding, the rooms at Disneyland Hotel scream quality. While we love themed hotels, it seems that one stumbling block to a nice Disney hotel room is execution of a theme. Disneyland Hotel doesn’t have that obstacle and really hits on everything you’d expect from a nice hotel room. This isn’t to say the room is generic (far from it) as there are touches of Disney everywhere, with photos of Walt Disney and early-era Disneyland all over.  There’s also a strong Mickey Mouse motif throughout the rooms, with Mickey accents and details here and there.

Disneyland-Hotel-0767

The rooms in Disneyland Hotel are roughly the size of the Grand Californian’s rooms, I’d say. Not huge, but not bad by any means. One thing worth noting is that they do not have balconies. We did not stay at Disneyland Hotel prior to its big refurbishment, but our understanding is that the rooms absorbed the balconies during the refurb. We definitely will take larger rooms over a balcony, although it would be nice if they have both.

Disneyland-Hotel-0771

It seems like the defining feature of the rooms at the Disneyland Hotel is the “goodnight kiss” (not to be confused with the Kiss Goodnight at Walt Disney World) switch that lights up the fiber optics in the headboard and plays “When You Wish Upon a Star,” music box style. Whoever thought up this feature is a genius, because it always seems to be the first thing mentioned when discussing Disneyland Hotel. If you have kids, they’ll love this. If you are an adult who is unduly impressed with things that light up and make sound, like me, you will want to leave this on all night.

Disneyland-Hotel-0768

One final note on the rooms, and those are the “Signature Suites.” These include the Mickey Mouse Penthouse, Big Thunder Suite, Pirates of the Caribbean Suite, Adventureland Suite, and others. Granted, every hotel has suites, but these look flat out awesome. We have never stayed in any of these, so we can’t recommend them, but if money is no issue, you definitely ought to look into them. (And if by chance we have readers to whom ‘money is no issue’ who need one of these suites tested before their trip, we will gladly accept the assignment should you wish to sponsor the research! ;))

disneyland-hotel-adventure-tower-view

Disneyland Hotel has a variety of amenities, services, and stuff, all of which you can read about for yourself on Disneyland’s website. Instead, we’ll focus on the two other big amenities at the hotel, which I believe are the pools and dining. In terms of pools, Disneyland Hotel has the E-Ticket pool and D-Ticket pool, in the middle of the hotel’s inner courtyard, both of which are nice. We particularly like the look of the the monorail waterslides, as well as the overall size and layout of these pools. There are also cabanas you can rent. As compared to the Grand Californian, we give the decisive edge in terms of pools to Disneyland Hotel.

When it comes to dining, Disneyland Hotel also gives the Grand Californian a run for its money. While the Grand Californian has Napa Rose, the second best Disney restaurant in the United States, Disneyland Hotel has Steakhouse 55. After that, Disneyland Hotel’s comparable restaurants are all arguably better. Trader Sam’s is the best bar (it’s really so much more than a bar) at Disneyland Resort, Tangaroa Terrace is an excellent counter service option (nevermind the 8/10 score here, we’ve eaten there several times since that review, and it’s gotten progressively better each time), and Goofy’s Kitchen is an incredibly popular character meal.

In our estimation, the US hotel that gives Disneyland Hotel the closest competition is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. After our first stay there, neither of us were overly impressed. The Grand Californian simply didn’t feel like a luxury hotel. It has grown on me since, but Sarah is still not completely sold on it. However, its lobby is absolutely gorgeous, as are its details and finishing. Its location–with a private entrance into Disney California Adventure–also cannot be beat. Disneyland Hotel feels like a luxury hotel done by Disney rather than a themed hotel. This is especially true in the rooms, which we prefer to the Grand Californian’s. It’s all a matter of preference, and while we (me, especially) love the Grand Californian for its authentic classic National Parks’ lodge look, we give Disneyland Hotel the nod overall.

Disneyland-Hotel-0769

This is especially true when comparing the nightly rate of each hotel. For a random night in December, the rate at the Grand Californian is $439/night plus tax, whereas Disneyland Hotel is $333/night plus tax. The exact rates vary based upon season and discounts (we paid $200/night thanks to a “Friends & Family” voucher given to us by a friend who works for Disney), but you can typically expect to pay at least $100/night more for the Grand Californian. Paradise Pier Hotel seems to generally be about $75/night cheaper than Disneyland Hotel, although we’ve seen Paradise Pier effectively more expensive on several occasions due to no availability in its lower room categories.

Regardless of the discount, Disneyland Hotel is still pricey. Whether it’s worth the cost is entirely a matter of preference and budget, but we consider it a much easier pill to swallow than the Grand Californian. Still, it’s at least double the price of off-site hotels located about the same distance away (and triple or more the price of off-site hotels located farther away). We’ve previously debated the merits of staying on-site versus staying off-site at Disneyland Resort, so I won’t rehash those here, but essentially, you pay a significant premium for being “on property.” Disneyland Resort doesn’t have nearly as many on-site hotel rooms as Walt Disney World, and this likely contributes to the rates.

Disneyland-Hotel-0770

For us, Disneyland Hotel is our favorite on-site hotel, with Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites as our favorite off-site hotel. These hotels are very different. Disneyland Hotel is a nice, luxurious hotel that takes a fond look back at Disney history and is located on-site. Desert Inn has larger rooms, is typically priced under $100/night (although I’ve recently been noticing their rates creep up for prime weekends), is utilitarian, and is located off-site. Its rooms aren’t what you’d call “nice,” but they do the job. The big bonus? It’s closer to Disneyland than Disneyland Hotel! Which is more appealing to us depends upon the nature of a trip and the rate for each. Despite Disneyland Hotel being farther from the parks than Desert Inn, it’s still a short walk, and many will likely prefer it as being inside the “Disney bubble.”

Overall, we both highly recommend Disneyland Hotel. It’s especially great for fans of Disneyland history, or those looking for a luxury hotel experience without the pretense of immersive theming. Those who prefer themed environments will likely prefer the Grand Californian, which definitely has many elements that are more impressive. The big question with regard to Disneyland Hotel is whether it’s worth the high nightly rates, especially with off-site hotels that are very conveniently located by comparison.

Considering booking Disneyland Hotel? Visit Hotels.com for current promotions and discounted rates!

Your Thoughts…

What do you think of Disneyland Hotel? Do you like the details and decor of the Disneyland Hotel, or do you feel that it lacks something that the other immersive, themed hotels have? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments!

468 ad

31 Responses to “Disneyland Hotel Review”

  1. Garrett F says:

    Did you guys have a chance to see the 2-Bedroom Suites in the hotel? We are considering a trip next April and would like to book a suite but we are hearing conflicting information about the layout from the forums as well as Cast Members we’ve spoken to on the phone a few times during booking. Some say there is a half bathroom in the common area between the two rooms and others say there are not. Can you shed any light into this?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Nope, we did not. Sorry we can’t offer any help on that!

    • Aman says:

      Super late reply, but you said you were going next April so…

      The two-bedroom suites are essentially a one- bedroom suite and a normal room. They are located at the end of the hallways. There is a first door for the two rooms, say 2468 (the suite) and 2469 (regular room), that opens up into an entry way that contains the doors to the two rooms. The first door has a normal hotel lock, so I guess if you get the two bedroom suite you can just prop the room doors open to make it feel like one large suite. We only had the one bedroom suite and it has a 1/2 bath in the common area, no shower. The shower and toilet are separated by a door from the sinks and vanity in the main bathroom of the suite.

      So to answer your question, there is a half bathroom in the suite.

      Hope that helps.

      Aman

      • Aman says:

        While researching for my Xmas 2014 trip I have learned that this type of suite is called a “lock-off”.

  2. C-J. says:

    There are some balconies in the Frontierland Tower. When we stayed there in May we had a “Theme Park View” room and huge balcony that ran the length of the room. The best part is that the balconies are class so when you sit down in the comfy chairs you can actually look into the Parks comfortably.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Didn’t know that–thanks for the feedback! I assume the balcony comes with the cost of the higher priced room?

    • Missy Clemmer says:

      Was your room with a balcony a standard room or a 1 bedroom suite? if it was a standard room, did it have just 2 beds or 2 beds and a loveseat? Thanks!

  3. Aaron in DC says:

    I’m really feeling torn on next year’s trip. I’m a DGC loyalist and love the proximity, especially as you noted if you need to change after riding Grizzly River Rapids. However, I’ve really fallen in love with the new look of the Disneyland Hotel. The new Signature Suites are definitely calling my name…but which one?? First world problems, right?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We are more than willing to do a “versus” review to help you make the decision. We’ll even put up a nice, big “SPONSORED BY AARON IN DC” banner above the review! ;)

      (I think I’d go with the Big Thunder Suite, but that’s just me.)

  4. Michelle (TheJourneyKey) says:

    Even though we are SoCal locals we do a 5 day stay every December. Our family prefers the Grand only for the proximity and for the lobby and wonderful holiday atmosphere, the rooms are nothing special. Over the years we have noticed that the price just keeps creeping up higher and higher making it hard to justify staying there….no real extra special touches like Mickey shaped towel folding art left by housekeeping, etc. Although they do have the chocolates left at night. But overall for the price I want all the bells and whistles where we feel the Grand just doesnt provide. (Although we still keep going back hoping that it’ll impress us more) That being said, last year we decided to divide up our stay to cut costs, so we did both the Disneyland Hotel and The Grand Californian….We really enjoyed all the touches at the Disneyland Hotel, right down to the mickey shaped faucet handles and yes our teen-aged kids loved the headboard as well. We are trying the hotel split again this coming December but it looks more and more like future stays will take place solely at The Disneyland Hotel.

  5. Tommy says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve always been curious about whether the Disneyland Hotel was worth the price difference over a Good Neighbor.

    Thanks to Dapper Days I got a pretty awesome rate for the Grand Californian in February. I highly recommend anyone look into the Dapper Day rates for the Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel, the discounts are pretty significant. Like you, I love the Lodge theme of the Grand Californian. However, truth be told, I’m under the impression that the Disneyland Hotel will have “better” rooms. Besides, staying so close to Trader Sam’s should weigh heavily on the decision making process. ;)

    As a side note I’m very happy to see that they have a Goodnight Kiss! As silly as it sounds the Goodnight Kisses were one of my favorite touches in the Dream Suite. The Adventureland themed room featured some beautiful Peter Pan visuals with music from the Jungle Book. The Frontierland room featured a model train that came to life and interacted with objects in the room and a rather large map of Disneyland lit up like a nighttime scene. The Goodnight Kiss is a seemingly small thing that makes an impact.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Great tip on the Dapper Day rates. This is true for a NUMBER of events that are “sponsored” by travel agencies and other groups. Most of the time, they don’t care if you book through them and don’t do the event, either. Their goal is to get as many bookings as possible, as that’s how they earn their commission.

      Being close to Trader Sam’s is a great, great perk! Perhaps even better than being close to DCA, depending upon your interests! ;)

  6. Andy says:

    The balconies that were removed didn’t result in additional interior square footage since they were faux balconies. I believe the window in the room opened up as a big slider and you could look out from your faux balcony, but there wasn’t anywhere you could really step onto. When the faux balconies were removed, the slider doors went away as well and now its just a window.

    Great review though. I’ve wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel since it was remodeled but haven’t yet had a chance. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the rooms. Even if you aren’t staying at the Hotel, it’s a really great place to spend some time at in the evening with Trader Sam’s, the large outdoor fireplace, and the general atmosphere.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the feedback on this, Andy. If anyone would know, it would be you. I’ve oddly heard the additional square footage thing from multiple people–odd urban legend, I guess? I’ll fix that in the main text of the review.

  7. Ashley Ryan says:

    We made our first trip to Disneyland last May, we go to WDW at least a week a year. We love being in the Disney Bubble. We looking at the three options there on property, we liked the GC, but the pools at DLH won the kids over. Tangaroa Terrace was great, the pools were awesome, and the location, while it didn’t have a private entrance was fine for us. We enjoyed the walk through DTD. I told my wife after we left that it was my favorite Disney Hotel we have stayed in. BTW, I agree with you, those suites look absolutely amazing, and if I had the money to burn, I would consider taking up residence in one if them.

  8. Kelly M says:

    I really appreciate this review Tom, thank you. My family are planning a trip to Disneyland in 2015 when the park is 60 – as my father will be 60 too! Hoping to spend at least one night in the Disneyland Hotel while we’re there.

  9. Coleen says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Disneyland Hotel (although not as much as the Grand Californian). There’s only one thing that will keep me from going back: the inability of the connecting door between rooms to block noise. It’s simply way too noisy; only once have we not had a problem sleeping because of our neighbors. Unlike you Tom, I require 8 hours of sleep every night!

  10. Clint says:

    Totally concur with this review. In spite of not being themed, this hotel feels more like Disney than any other. For me, a real highlight is the display of many classic pieces of Disney art and memorabilia throughout the three hotels.

    A tip: if you get a standard view room, request the Adventureland Tower, as you will still be facing Downtown Disney and will even get a view of the fireworks. As well, it will be the shortest of staggers back from Trader Sam’s to your room at night.

  11. Steve says:

    My family is headed to Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel in a few weeks for our first Christmas visit. We have stayed at the re-modeled hotel in 2011 (as it was being worked upon) and when I was booking our trip this year, my kids made it quite clear a room without the “Good Night Kiss” headboard just wouldn’t cut it. Besides one of my boys is a hard core Disney history nerd and will spend hours wandering from one historical display to another within the three towers.

    This year we are doing the DVC tour as I think we are at the point to purchase. When we learned that the Disney policy is now to not allow use of re-sell points for the Disneyland Hotel, again my family is siding with buying direct to keep our point-trade options flexible (particularly for the Disneyland Hotel).

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Very funny what your kids said about the Good Night Kiss. Like I said, whoever decided to add that was a marketing GENIUS!

      As for DVC, I would do the math on the value of using DVC points at non-DVC hotels. I have yet to encounter a situation where paying out of pocket was not cheaper (thanks to publicly available discounts) than using DVC points to pay for the hotel. If you want to buy into DVC for stays at DVC resorts, great, but I’d recommend buying fewer and just paying for non-DVC stays out of pocket.

  12. Vinny says:

    Great read! I am completely in agreement with you…especially wondering how often they replace all the paper goods. I probably have Disneyland Hotel stationary to last for months! Not to mention Disneyland Hotel coasters. I hope they build that into the rate because they go home with me!

    I consider myself a Disney snob and enjoy staying at the Deluxe resorts in Walt Disney World. When I moved to San Francisco and found myself going to Disneyland more and more and then becoming a Disneyland Annual Passport holder, I realized that I should at least try the Disneyland Hotel, even though it isn’t the flagship. Now my thought is WHY ISN’T IT THE FLAGSHIP!?!? I have to agree that the Grand Californian’s lobby is spectacular but as a whole experience and the feel of luxury definitely belongs to the Disneyland Hotel!

    And for my 30th birthday in January, I am splurging on the Fairy Tale suite for a few nights!!! It is the only one of the Signature Suites I could afford on my own and it looks like it will be worth it…especially since Concierge E-Ticket lounge is included in the rate. I have been given a tour of the Big Thunder suite during one of my visits, and it is amazing!!! But again, those suites fit more people, thus much out of my price range for this trip. But the closer and closer I get to January, I am geeking out more and more about the Fairy Tale suite! Anyone here experience that suite yet?

    Thanks again for a great article!

  13. Carmela says:

    Please please please help… Planning a trip to Disney literally form Nov 23- Nov 29 going to parks the 24-27th we aren’t sure what to do… Stay or if we should or shouldn’t get the meal plan it’s myself and my husband and 2 sons 4 and 13 years old not sure if getting the dining plan is worth in we are all about having fast food and enjoying the park we want to spend less time sitting and eating but more in the parks having fun… Does the meal plan work at downtown Disney? We need help fast :)

  14. jennifer says:

    Loved your review of the Disneyland hotel and it sure is better with the new facelift, but the best Disney U.S. hotel has to go to Disneys Wilderness Lodge. Has the best atmosphere of any US hotel and the lobby is by far the best and location on the lake is stunning. you could stay athe Wilderness hotel and never leave the property and have agreat vacation, do not think you can say that for any of the other great hotels.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Grand Californian’s lobby is superior to Wilderness Lodge, in my opinion.

      I think you could also take a vacation at Animal Kingdom Lodge and never leave the hotel. In fact, due to its superior restaurants and the animals, I’d say it’s the superior hotel for that.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love Wilderness Lodge!

  15. Lynn says:

    Planning a trip to Disneyland for this summer. We are from the east coast & travel yearly to WDW. Any suggestions on where to stay & what to do??? We are retired military so are hopeful for some discounts.

  16. I noticed you referenced hotels.com at the end of this…just curious why you would want to go through that site instead of the Disney website? I’ve noticed the prices are identical so I wasn’t sure if there would be that much of a price difference. However, in using Swagbucks I could earn a ton going through hotels.com. Ever hear of any problems with reservations with regard to going through them instead of Disney??

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve never heard of any issues with hotels.com. We’ve used them for booking hotels on numerous occasions. It’s there because it’s easier to book, they have rewards, and sometimes they *do* have better prices (not always).

  17. Heather says:

    We are spending one night at the Disneyland Hotel for our 25th Anniversary. Any tips on which tower or room request to make? I understand from other commenters that the Frontierland tower is a good bet.

  18. I think casual fans would appreciate the photographs in the books as well as the parallels between Walt Disney and Jack Wrather. The Pirates Suite is our favorite. When you ring the doorbell, it plays the Yo Ho song. Our kids found out about that pretty early so needless to say, we heard “Yo Ho Yo Ho a Pirates Life For Me” quite a bit. We have been fortunate to have stayed in most of the suites. The Ambassador is also a favorite and has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a large dining room and two balconies. The old Presidential (now the Blue Sky Suite) had three bathrooms, a huge dining/meeting room, a living room and a full kitchen but only one, large bedroom. It did have a couch that made into a bed and you could get roll-aways. Loved your article. Disneyland Hotel-the World’s Most Exciting Hotel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>