Disneyland Off-Site Hotel Review: Desert Inn & Suites

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Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites is a hotel in Anaheim, California across the street from Disneyland. This review features photos of the hotel, thoughts on it, plus some tips for staying here. As Desert Inn is literally right across the street from Disneyland, it’s only a 5 minute walk to the parks, and is actually closer than two on-site hotels: Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.

Of the Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels at which I’ve stayed thus far, Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites is my favorite. This shouldn’t be misconstrued as me claiming it’s the best hotel in Anaheim or in any way luxurious. It’s still a 2.5 or maybe 3-star hotel with fairly basic rooms and limited amenities. However, for the low price, great location, and fairly solid rooms, I feel it offers great bang for buck, and is my preferred off-site Disneyland hotel.

People often ask us about money-saving Disneyland-area hotel options, and as we’ve stayed at a good number (although there are a lot of hotels near Disneyland, and we haven’t stayed in nearly all of them) of these “walking distance to Disneyland hotels,” we thought we’d put together some quick-hit reviews of each hotel along Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue. You can find an index of our other off-site Disneyland hotel reviews, and read our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

Save for Park Vue Inn and Best Western Plus Park Place Inn, Desert Inn & Suites is the closest off-site hotel to Disneyland. For me, its location is by far it’s strongest selling point. This is almost universally true of the off-site Disneyland hotels, although we’ve noticed refurbishments occurring to a few of these in 2015 and with 9 new hotels opening in the Anaheim Resort District by the end of 2015, there’s a good chance that the competition will compel other existing hotels to raise their game.

Another caveat worth mentioning that you’ll see as a preface to most of these reviews is that we do not recommend Desert Inn & Suites if you are not visiting Disneyland. For what it is, Desert Inn is priced at a premium. This is due almost entirely to its proximity to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Like I said, location is its #1 amenity, but if you are not planning on visiting the Disneyland Resort theme parks, you are paying a large amount for an “amenity” you won’t use. If you’re in Anaheim for other reasons, you can find nicer accommodations at this price point or similar accommodations at a much lower price point. All of the hotels along Harbor Boulevard are charging about a 50% premium for location.

With that said, let’s take a look at what Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites brings to the table… (more…)

Hotel MiraCosta Review

Close your eyes. Actually, wait, if you do that, you can’t read this. Read this, then close your eyes and imagine this. Okay, go…

Imagine retiring to your well-appointed, in-park stateroom after an exhilarating morning of attractions. Following a brief rest to rejuvenate your senses, you awake and move to a cozy table by your window. You gaze into the eternal sea out before you that is being criss-crossed by small steamers and encircled by ports on each side, as the gentle strings of a harp and faint laughter of children below your window envelop you (listen). As your eyes survey the ports, you see a slumbering volcano in one direction, an ocean liner off in the distance, a towering cosmopolitan hotel near it, and the picturesque facades of Portofino right outside. Without knowing, a smile stretches across your face as you begin to write a post card to your friends back on the mainland, sharing your incredible adventures. The soft afternoon light comes through the window, kissing your face and giving you a feel of gentle warmth. The love of your life takes a seat next to you, quietly marveling at the incredible sights outside. You clink fizzling flutes of champagne, toasting to la dolce vita before sauntering downstairs to explore the ports by moonlight.

This is Hotel MiraCosta: Your Captain’s Stateroom in the Sea of Disney.  (more…)

B Resort – Downtown Disney Hotel Review

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B Resort & Spa is a hotel located in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney Area. This review covers my recent stay at the newly-opened hotel, featuring photos of rooms and hotel amenities. A little too large and standardized to be described accurately as a boutique hotel, B Resort is like a mix of boutique and trendy, minimalist hotels. The hotel recently reopened after an extensive top to bottom overhaul, and more or less looks brand new.

This is apparent as soon as you step foot in the lobby, which conveys both a minimalist and luxurious tone. This is where the hotel really shines. The walls are a crisp white, which looks striking juxtaposed against blue accents and other features of the area. Here, there are also lounge-ish areas with comfortable chairs and large, touch-screen kiosks where guests can access a variety of information (including the ability to print boarding passes). Next to these lounges is American Q, where the smell of smoked meats beckons carnivores inside. There’s also a small display of artwork hanging on the walls in this area, which is promised to be rotated out, gallery style.

This entire main entrance area of the hotel looks really nice and is very ambitious. It’s a common area with a lot to see and do, and that is just plain enjoyable. It didn’t feel at all chaotic with arrivals and departures, instead more like a place where people (many of them well-dressed and looking like they were ready for a night on the town) were hanging out and mingling. I’ve noticed this type of atmosphere in other hotels at which we’ve stayed, but this was a first for a hotel at Walt Disney World.

Actually, B Resort & Spa seems like a bit of an outlier for Walt Disney World hotels in a number of ways, both good and bad… (more…)

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Review

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a deluxe hotel at Walt Disney World (and soon to be Disney Vacation Club resort) that is themed to the South Pacific, with a distinct retro tiki culture styling. It is one of Walt Disney World’s original hotels, and recently reverted to its Polynesian “Village” name after years of just being Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Regardless of its official name, it’s known to most Disney fans simply as “the Poly.” It’s considered a village because of its sprawling layout comprised of 11 longhouses (hotel buildings) plus the Great Ceremonial House, which is the main lobby where the restaurants, shops, etc. are located.

We have long been fans of the Poly. For me, it dates back to when I was a kid, walking from Shades of Green to the Poly for the monorail, and going to the Neverland Club while my parents went to Pleasure Island. As adults, Sarah and I have spent a ton of time at the Poly despite never staying there. I even proposed to Sarah on the beach of the Polynesian during the fireworks back when we got engaged. We’ve since been back numerous times for dining and other purposes, but hadn’t stayed there until this year. Whenever we’ve wanted to do a stay in a Deluxe Resort, other options always had better discounts, so it was always on our “someday” list.

The point with all of this is that all of this build-up created pretty lofty expectations for the Poly. While we enjoy the hotel, we don’t think it’s quite worthy of the high praise it receives. It’s still an excellent resort, but it seems to be the overwhelming top pick for hotels at Walt Disney World, and we’re not quite that enthusiastic about it. As is the case with all Walt Disney World on-site hotels, Polynesian Village Resort guests receive MagicBands and can make FastPass+ reservations. Learn more about this in our MyMagic+ FAQ.

Before that, let’s take a look at the positives. The Poly is just a flat out cool resort. It has a ton of incredibly detailed tikis scattered around the grounds that were carved by Oceanic Arts in California. I could spend a morning just wandering around looking at these, and their cheeky designs always make me smile. In general, the Polynesian has a very enjoyable ambiance thanks to its many details and the general island ambiance that is so well conveyed, even if the resort is more a lighthearted caricature (not at all in a bad way) of island life than it is an attempt at authenticity. The feel of the Poly is a definite X-factor that might override all criticism below. In terms of theme, this is far and away my #1 resort at Walt Disney World.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Now through approximately March 2015, extensive lobby, restaurant, and pool renovations, plus construction to add Disney Vacation Club villas, are occurring at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. During this time, we strongly recommend booking a stay elsewhere.
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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.

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…)