Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel Review: Park Vue Inn

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Park Vue Inn is literally the closest hotel to Disneyland, and it’s pretty nice as far as the nearby hotels go. This review features photos of the hotel, plus thoughts about our experience of staying here. If you’ve been to Disneyland, you’ve probably seen Park Vue Inn before…it’s the hotel directly across the street that has a Cold Stone Creamery attached to it.

For a while, I’ve touted Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites, calling it my favorite off-site hotel because of its combination of distance, price point, and decent-enough quality for commando trips to Disneyland. Well, Park Vue Inn has replaced it as my #1 pick. It rivals some of the nicer Convention Center hotels in terms of quality, while being extremely close. It’s tough to appropriately categorize Park Vue Inn: like the other hotels on Harbor, it probably could be called a budget, but Park Vue Inn describes itself as a boutique hotel (I guess that explains the chic spelling of “Vue” in the name), and given what it offers and the iconic mission-inspired architecture, I’m inclined to call it a “moderate” hotel.

Let’s start with the location. When I say it’s literally the closest hotel to Disneyland, I mean it. The walk is less than 10 minutes from the hotel to the turnstiles at Disneyland, which makes it closer than every single on-site hotel, including the Grand Californian (although the Grand Californian is closer to Disney California Adventure, so perhaps this is a bit of a technicality). Another caveat is that whether it or Best Western Park Place Inn or Park Vue Inn is closer is really a question of which room you get. Again, minor detail.

I think all of the hotels in that cluster right across the street are “close enough” in terms of distance, as there are several that are about 10-12 minutes away, and it’s not really worth paying a premium to save 2 minutes, so in this case, it really comes down to quality and price, and Park Vue Inn excels in at least one of these regards. Although it’s not listed as one of the 39 Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels, Park Vue Inn is a Good Neighbor Hotel–they just don’t participate in the vacation packages through Disneyland. Regardless, it’s nice hotel that would earn that distinction regardless of location. You can get an idea of how it stacks up to the competition, plus our overall comparison of the benefits of staying off-site versus on-site in our Where to Stay at Disneyland post.

So what are the pros and cons of staying at Park Vue Inn? Let’s take a look… (more…)

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel Review

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Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is a luxury hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort just outside Tokyo Disneyland. This review features photos of guest rooms, views, and common areas, plus thoughts on the hotel in general and whether it’s worth the money. With its Victorian theme, luxurious style, and location a short walk from the most popular Disney theme park in the world, this would be the flagship Disney hotel anywhere else in the world. At Tokyo Disney Resort, it’s often overshadowed by Hotel MiraCosta (read our Hotel MiraCosta Review), which is actually located inside Tokyo DisneySea. Rooms in Tokyo Disneyland Hotel start at around $300/night, and go up depending upon the view, season, and number of guests (see this rate chart).

The view pictured above is from our room at Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, and while this view was absolutely stunning, it is not the norm. We were incredibly lucky with our room location, and because Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is located farther back from the park than its counterpart, Hotel MiraCosta, and because the roofed World Bazaar is fairly tall, many rooms–even those that face the park–offer little in terms of view.

I mention this from the outset because I think view might be the biggest consideration for those contemplating a hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort, and Tokyo Disneyland Hotel simply isn’t as consistently good as Hotel MiraCosta in this regard. If you get lucky or book one of the rooms that’s sure to have a great view, Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is definitely an incredible experience, though. If you’re trying to do Tokyo Disney Resort on a budget, there are great monorail loop hotels offering excellent views at a fraction of the cost of Tokyo Disneyland Hotel.

If you set aside the view, Tokyo Disneyland Hotel is arguably the best hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort… (more…)

Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort Review

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The Wyndham is a hotel in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney Area. This review covers my recent stay here, featuring photos of rooms and hotel amenities at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. The Wyndham is an interesting hotel due to its…relative uninterestingness. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, and it probably is, but in just about every regard, the Wyndham is fairly standard. Nothing over the top, nothing really bad, nothing really great. Pretty much a utilitarian hotel that gets the job done in every regard, but likewise fails to wow. Depending upon your perspective, this might be its biggest strength or greatest weakness.

From the generic tower structure of the hotel to the low-to-average prices to the pedestrian but serviceable rooms and beyond, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista doesn’t disappoint. Nor does it exceed any expectations. It’s not a diamond in the rough, it’s just a predictable, solid hotel.

Amenities at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista include a lot of the standard hotel stuff, like a fitness center, tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, meeting spaces, restaurants (including a 24-hour cafe), video arcade, car rental, and Disney gift shop. Then there’s the less-standard stuff: a nice pool with water play area for kids, Disney character dining, and a “Director of Fun” for kids’ activities.

Let’s take a look at all of this, plus the rooms and pros and cons of the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista… (more…)

Swan & Dolphin Hotel Review

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The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin are on-site hotels near Epcot that are Deluxe-caliber. This review features photos of a newly renovated room in the Dolphin, thoughts about the collective amenities at both hotels, and a general summary of the hotels’ value.

Reviewing the Swan and/or Dolphin is a tricky proposition for a few reasons. First, what exactly are they in terms of classification? They are operated by Starwood, but dubbed “Walt Disney World resorts” and their location plus certain amenities (Disney transportation, Extra Magic Hours, etc.) put them in line with other Disney Resorts. However, they lack other perks (Disney’s Magical Express, Disney Dining Plan, etc.) found at Disney-owned resorts, and have some policies inconsistent with Disney-owned resorts.

I’m going to dub them “official unofficial Disney Resorts” as I think that incoherent moniker accurately summarizes the arrangement here. There’s also the question of treating them as one single hotel or two distinct hotels. As best I can tell, they are akin to the Yacht & Beach Club, except without any significant thematic differences. As such, I feel it appropriate to lump them together for the purposes of this review (the infallible TripAdvisor seems to agree with this approach).

I won’t bore you with the history of how deals Michael Eisner made gave these hotels their murky status (you can read DisneyWar for that) or the contrived, now abandoned backstory of the design choices of the hotels (you can read this excellent Jim Korkis article for that). Suffice to say, the Swan & Dolphin are among the most historically interesting of all the hotels at Walt Disney World, and the size and scale of the hotels has made them controversial and divisive among Walt Disney World fans. (more…)

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…)