Carousel Inn & Suites Review
Carousel Inn & Suites is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel that is right across the street from the Esplanade. This review includes photos of the hotel, plus thoughts about our experience of staying here. I’ll also touch on one of the most important “features” of Carousel Inn & Suites: the Pizza Press restaurant located on its premises.
Those of you who are Disney fans or live in Southern California might recognize the name of this hotel as being in the news recently: it was just purchased by Disneyland. That’s mostly immaterial to this review, but popular speculation suggests Carousel Inn & Suites is the future home to a pedestrian walkway connecting a (future) parking structure over Harbor Boulevard and to the Esplanade.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a hotel near Disneyland might be location, and it’s tough to beat Carousel Inn & Suites in that regard. It’s about 5 minutes from the Esplanade, meaning you can get from your room to inside the parks in under 10 minutes (give or take). Not bad.
Carousel Inn & Suites is a Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotels, and is classified by Disney as a “Moderate,” which is the tier of basically all of the non-name brand hotels in the area. In terms of overall quality, it’s a solid hotel that probably is more or less a moderate. 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.
Before we get into the meat of the review, I want to address the ‘ugly’ of Carousel Inn & Suites. If you regularly read this blog, you know I am not a fan of resort fees. Carousel Inn has a resort fee, but fortunately, it’s only $5/night. Oh cool, you might think, a relatively low fee to cover WiFi. Nope, this resort fee doesn’t cover WiFi. That’ll be another $6.95 per 12 hours. Well, maybe it covers parking. Nope, parking is valet-only and costs $14/day. Well, maybe it covers breakfast. Nope, you’re on your own for that.
Let’s just quit with this cute little guessing game. The resort fee at Carousel Inn & Suites literally covers none of the standard things you’d expect it to cover. In fact, I’m not sure what it does, besides providing another way for them to gouge guests.
Here’s a list of additional fees at Carousel Inn just in case those weren’t enough: crib fee, $10/night; roll-away bed fee, $25/night; bottled water fee, $3/bottle; room key fee, $20/key (if not returned at checkout). I think that about covers it. Carousel Inn gives out fees like Oprah gives away cars: YOU GET A FEE, AND YOU GET A FEE, AND EVERYBODY GETS A FEEEEE! If you like being nickel and dimed, it is most certainly the hotel for you!
As my tone might suggest, it’s going to be “one of those” reviews. Fortunately, there are some bright spots at Carousel Inn. You just have to notify the front desk for anything else you enjoy about the hotel so they can charge you a $9.95/night fee for it…
Carousel Inn describes itself as “Disneyland’s most stylish neighbor” on its website. That’s one way to put it. If by stylish they mean how your aunt who fancies herself as hip might decorate, then I agree.
There’s really nothing wrong with the rooms, and they have a certain charm to them (they look clean and fresh), but stylish they most certainly are not.
The rooms reminded me of a more modern Candy Cane Inn, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Both hotels have a similar “guest room of an older relative” vibe to them–they are nicely finished, just in a mundane style. If you like the style of Candy Cane Inn’s rooms, you’ll like these rooms.
The biggest downside of the room was that the walls were paper thin, and you could hear any noise from adjacent rooms. I could even hear the valets talking amongst themselves from my room with the windows closed.
The upside to this is that the air conditioning unit sounds like a large, angry monster, and is sure to drown out any noise outside. This didn’t bother me as I don’t mind constant, static noise, but your mileage may vary on that one.
On the upside, the bedding was incredibly comfortable, both in terms of the plushness of the mattress and the pillows. The sheets and blanket themselves were clean and of nice quality, too. Definitely no qualms about the bedding, which is nice by Harbor Boulevard hotel standards.
The bathroom was above average (note that I received an ADA-accessible bathroom) and although it was not trendy or modern, it definitely was not in any way lacking. Again, one of the better bathrooms of the hotels at which I’ve stayed on Harbor.
Here’s a video tour of the room. I asked whether this is something in which readers would be interested in the Hotel Indigo Anaheim Review and no one responded, so I’m guessing not, but maybe seeing the video makes a difference? Let me know in the comments if it’s something you’d like for other hotels; if readers general don’t care, I won’t waste my time.
The main amenities at Carousel Inn & Suites were also pretty nice. There is a fireworks viewing platform, and although I wasn’t there for the fireworks, the hotel’s location suggests this would be a workable spot if you had to head home from the parks early.
The pool is located on the rooftop, which is cool in itself because the area offers cool panoramic views of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Another plus is that the pool was slightly larger and nicer than normal pools near Disneyland.
The workout room is also up there and is cramped (this is pretty common) but has a huge LCD television with cable, so that’s another plus.
Then there’s the on-site restaurant, the Pizza Press. Think of this as Subway for pizzas (akin to the Blaze). This is one of the best restaurants near Disneyland, but I’m not sure it’s really a ‘perk’ of the hotel since it’s located right by the road and you can just as easily dine here if you stay at any of the nearby hotels. In any case, Pizza Press is a great value at $10/pizza and they offer Annual Pass discounts. AP discounts for an off-site restaurant? It’s like the anti-Carousel Inn! 😉
Okay, I’m not quite done complaining about the fees, so let’s go back to them. I abhor resort fees, but am slightly more understanding of them when staying at a resort that is providing something for the fee. First of all, Carousel Inn is not a resort, it’s a motel. Second, unless I am missing something, there are no “extras” provided by this fee that is not be at most of the world’s motels. It is quite simply a consumer-unfriendly, arguably deceptive added charge.
Then there’s the valet parking fee. Note that this is valet-only not because this is some swanky resort (remember, it’s a motel), but because the hotel is overbuilt and there is an insufficient number of parking spaces for the rooms available, meaning that cars must be double-parked. So, not only does parking take far longer than it should, but you are obliged to tip a valet for providing an inefficient service that you probably didn’t want in the first place. Given the parking predicament the hotel created for itself, they should be offering free parking as a way to apologize for the guest inconvenience, not spinning it as some perk and charging extra for it.
Rack rates at Carousel Inn & Suites range from around $110/night to $170/night, depending upon season, before all of the various fees and taxes. Given the location and room quality, the lower end of the rate is not too bad if you don’t need parking or WiFi.
Overall, Carousel Inn & Suites is a charming little hotel with an excellent location adjacent to one of the best off-site restaurants near Disneyland. None of this matters in the face of the egregious fees they tack on, especially with plenty of worthy alternative hotels that are similarly-priced (sans fees) on both sides of Carousel Inn. I suspect Disney will take a “hands off” approach to the management of this hotel, but I certainly hope that’s not the case, as the fees here are very consumer unfriendly and, frankly, offensive. I would not give my business to Carousel Inn again even if their hotel was half the price of other hotels in the area, and I wasn’t driving, needing WiFi, etc., purely as a matter of principle. I believe in voting with my wallet, and I oppose practices that are exploitative of consumers, even if said practices don’t impact me directly. Carousel Inn is a fairly nice hotel, but it’s a really lousy business.
As for figuring out the rest of your Disneyland trip, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, the best restaurants for dining at Disneyland, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Trip Planning Guide!
Have you stayed at Carousel Inn & Suites in Anaheim? Did you enjoy your stay? Did you enjoy being nickel and dimed? What did you think of the guest rooms? Considering this hotel? Do you prefer staying off-site or on-site at Disneyland? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!
I’m interested in a Hotel Indigo Anaheim review & video!!
We are booked here for 3 nights for the Halloween Celebration and we are going to the party.. wish we had seen the blog about the tickets and all and I am not happy that we are staying at such a downtrodden hotel. If I were Disney I would certainly put some sort of disclaimer about the purchase out there. I know I was like wow maybe they will fix it up real nice only to find out it most likely will be bulldozed which makes it even more likely that the motel will go down hill faster, after all, why fix it up when it is just going to be demolished. On the other hand last year we stayed at the Stovall nice hotel but a heck of a walk for us older folks so the fact that this motel is right across the street is what really sold us.
This review makes me less than happy, we are booked to stay there in early November.
Tom, I totally agree on the extra fees. They are scamming us. We all use Tripadvisor or some other service, and we go by the posted price to compare. But when you add in three fees, the comparo become meaningless, and it means we have to do a lot of clicking and searching to find the REAL price.
I actually loved the video –sometimes photos don’t quite do a complete job of ‘translating’ the layout/space. However, I seem to be the only one… and you take such fantastic photos anyway. I suppose I will survive. 😉
When we went to DL last year we stayed at the Fairfield Inn and every single day we walked by Carousel Inn they had someone outside trying to steal customers away from their hotels by giving them ‘deals’. The guy would always start off by complimenting me & then the next words out of his mouth were something having to do with their hotel. Aside from it being super annoying it seemed like awful shady tactics as a way to get customers. After about 4 days of that we finally had to tell the guy to back off & stop trying to buy us every time we walked by. I told my husband that basically sealed the fact that I would *never* stay there. And now, after reading your review, I’m absolutely certain of it!
Tom – One of the original and still existing reasons we were attracted to your blog is due to your high quality and nicely post-produced photographs. After looking at the video, I did not find that it provided me with any additional information about the hotel room that were not already provided with your many photos, including wide angle photos. In general with your hotel reviews, you include quite a few good photos with many angles and wide angle lens shots inside the room.
If you intend to continue doing videos, may I recommend that you add a sound track? The hissing was very irritating. Use audio from youtube.com/audiolibrary (you need to sign into your account). It has a lot of soundtracks that Youtube has licenced for your royalty free use. By using these tracks, you don’t need to worry about DMCA takedown notices when videos are uploaded to Youtube.
One thing that we would like to see more of is references to Sarah. In the past few months, very few posts seem to refer to her and there are hardly any photos of her. This is very different than your older posts.
I truly don’t know what I’m doing with video. I thought there was no sound to that video, but it turns out I had my computer on mute when playing it back. Oops! (Thanks for the heads up.)
As for less Sarah in posts, that’s a dual result of me taking a couple of solo trips at the end of last year coupled with the lack of trip reports (where you’d normally see her). I thought I had a photo of her in the Be Our Guest Breakfast Review, but it turns out that I forgot to use it. I’ve added it now (Shellie May fans, eat your hearts out): https://www.disneytouristblog.com/be-our-guest-restaurant-breakfast-review/
I don’t care about Carousel Inn, I just wanted to comment on Pizza Press: the absolute BEST discovery we made several years ago! We even make sure we walk there when we stay as far away the Best Western way down on Katella… Our favorite pizza, a mile out of the way… Good beer on tap, or to go, and consistently wonderful SERVICE and taste…. Kinda rare…. We call it our Disney secret, and you’re letting everyone know!
Love this blog!!!
It truly is “the bomb”, as they say. I look forward to the day Disney bulldozes Carousel Inn, but I hope Pizza Press obtains some deserved National Landmark and/or Treasure status that prevents Disney from tearing it down.
Resort fees are the work of the devil. They are on the same list of “horribly and obviously useless” things that the TSA and DSA (Disney Security Administration – aka WDW bag check) are on. As I’m sure you know, Orlando is particularly bad about it. The worst I experienced last year was a hotel offering $55 rooms online, with a $15 “Resort fee”! I’m constantly complaining to hotels.com about it, but they seem to be in on the “Resort fee” scheme with the resorts, as are all of the other hotel sites.
Really appreciate your honesty in your reviews!
Ha, thanks, but…I sort of think it’s sad that we’ve come to a point where such a thanks is even warranted. Honesty should be a fundamental, expected thing in any review of anything.
I love the videos, because in the past I’ve looked up reviews for resorts I’m staying at and some minor point is not mentioned in the reviews available on the web, and I’ll go to Youtube to see if anyone has recorded a tour for the room, and they usually answer small silly questions that aren’t answered in reviews. They also give a better spatial sense of how big the room is.
That’s what I sort of thought. There hasn’t really been any kind of intense demand for videos, and there are certainly others out there on YouTube, but often they are lower quality. I’m hardly an expert in video (although it’s something I’d like to do more of) but for now I’ll just keep doing these basic videos…as long as I remember to do them.
I loved the video tour and would like to see them for all your reviews, if you’re wiling. Did you make Sarah wait outside, lol? I was expecting to see her at any turn but nope. It would have been awesome if she jumped out from behind the shower curtain!
And this review was filled with extra hilarious sarcasm and I loved the description of the air conditioner, lol. I actually prefer my air units to be angry monsters since it’s helpful at blocking any other noise out.
Sarah actually didn’t stay in this hotel. For the most recent reviews of hotels near Disneyland, a lot of time I just drive up by myself after seeing a good price in Hotel Tonight for the specific purpose of doing the review. Other times we have booked at the end of the night in the parks because we don’t want to drive home. If she were there, she would’ve stood outside, though.
…didn’t you say you live in Indiana?
We moved to Southern California.
I think the perspective of all the great photos you take of the hotel rooms is adequate. I don’t feel the need for a video.
I’m betting that’s how most people feel. Thanks for the feedback.
I agree with Dani, I don’t need videos your photo’s are fine.
I would like to ask that you put some native ‘un-tweaked’ light photos of the rooms. Everyone always seems to brighten up their photos of the bath and sink area’s when showing them with their native light would be more helpful…
Just like you did with the Alamo review!
Your photos are always well done and answer many questions!
Carousel Inn & Suites has really gone downhill in the last several years. We’ve gone out of the Disneyland half marathon the last few years, and in 2012 when we stayed at Carousel there was a breakfast included in the price, and the breakfast room had a fantastic view of the fireworks at night. No extra fees (except parking, but we don’t drive) were charged. 2013, all of a sudden things changed. No more breakfast, fees left & right.
2014 we switched to another good neighbor hotel. It’s a few more minutes walk, but they still include a continental breakfast and the rooms are bigger. Plus, no resort fees. I agree, the only way to battle these anti-consumer practices is to vote with our wallets.
That’s really too bad. I had no idea that the situation used to be so much better. Even without the fees, it wouldn’t be my top across the street hotel due to the thin walls, but it would still be a pretty good option.
The sad reality is that it will take a lot of people voting with their wallets (and saying why in places like the comments here, on TripAdvisor, Yelp, forums, etc.) to really make a difference. Otherwise, people will keep booking, oblivious to all of the extra fees.
Based on the FTC warning letters I’ve read about the practice that have gone out to other hotels, what Carousel Inn & Suites is doing might not just be consumer-unfriendly, it might well violate the FTC Act concerning “drip pricing.” That’s serious stuff. https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-warns-hotel-operators-price-quotes-exclude-resort-fees-other-mandatory-surcharges-may-be/121128hoteloperatorsletter.pdf