Paradise Pier Hotel Review
Paradise Pier Hotel is an official Disney hotel at Disneyland Resort with a 4-star rating, themed to a beachside boardwalk of the 1920s. It’s typically the least-expensive of the three official Disneyland Resort hotels, but it’s also the farthest from the park, and offers the least in terms of style and amenities. This review features photos of the Paradise Pier Hotel guest rooms and common areas, plus my thoughts on the hotel, and whether I’d recommend it.
Some people are fans of Paradise Pier Hotel. I am not one of those people. In fact, I honestly figured we’d never have a review of the hotel because I refused to pay anywhere near rack rate at this hotel and the type of insane deal necessary to convince me to stay here seemed unlikely. By stroke of luck, a family member of ours happened to get bumped from Disneyland Hotel for a recent convention and ended up at Paradise Pier Hotel, so we joined her for part of the stay. Hence this review.
The good news is that the experience at Paradise Pier Hotel was better than I expected. The bad news is that my expectations were incredibly low, and I still don’t recommend the place. It’s a nice-enough hotel, but it simply doesn’t offer good value.
Why is my opinion of Paradise Pier Hotel low? Well…how much time do you have? 😉
For starters, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is farther from Disneyland and Disney California Adventure than at least a half-dozen hotels located on Harbor Boulevard. Right off the bat, this removes any “convenience” advantage you might assume of a Disney hotel. If Paradise Pier Hotel still had the private entry into Paradise Pier, that alone would probably negate some of my complaints.
Speaking of it being a Disney hotel, it barely is. Up until it was purchased by Disney in the mid-1990s, it was actually operated by a third party, just like any ole ordinary off-site hotel in the Anaheim Resort District. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, rates would jump from $85 to $125 just by virtue of association with Disney.
Therein lies the crux of the problem for me: Paradise Pier is an off-site hotel masquerading as a Disney hotel. Yes, the Disney name is on the marquee, and there is a minimal amount of theming.
At its core, Paradise Pier Hotel feels no different than one of the nicer Good Neighbor Hotels near Disneyland, except at a much higher price point. Essentially, you are paying a premium for that “Disney’s” in front of the name, and that premium is a costly one.
For a standard view room, rates at Paradise Pier Hotel start at $259 (before tax) and quickly go above the $300/night mark. By contrast, a hotel of comparable quality in the area costs about $175/night. That’s what I’m guessing the rates would be if Pan Pacific still owned the hotel, and given the location, amenities, and room quality, I think that’s about a fair price.
That’s my big problem with the hotel. Price removed from the equation, it’s an okay little hotel, and I do enjoy the pier-side vibe and the art (including concept art for versions of Paradise Pier that never came to fruition) throughout the hotel. However, when thinking about price, I can’t help but think that you could pay a little more for the wonderful Disneyland Hotel, a lot more for the grandiose, flagship Grand Californian, or less for a comparable Good Neighbor Hotel. I just don’t see where Paradise Pier Hotel “fits” in terms of what it offers versus what it costs.
Now, some may argue that Disney has renovated the hotel and made it nicer than it was under Pan Pacific’s ownership. It probably is a nicer hotel than it was in 1995 when Disney purchased it, but the inference there is that Pan Pacific wouldn’t have renovated the hotel in the intervening 20 years, which is a pretty bold assumption.
I’d hazard a guess that 95% of hotels near Disneyland are nicer now than they were in 1995. If Pan Pacific’s only other hotel in the United States, the Pan Pacific Seattle, is any indication, the hotel would be as well–or better–off had it remained under Pan Pacific ownership.
This is where my other major issue with the Paradise Pier Hotel lies. The hotel is charging premium prices, yet it still retains the feel of Disney California Adventure 1.0, circa 2001.
Granted, some of the art around the lobby has been updated to remove the Orange Stinger and Maliboomer references (both can still be found on in-room paper materials), but it still feels a lot like old Disney’s California Adventure. This is cool for people like me who enjoy seeing remnants of DCA pre-overhaul, but it’s unfortunate for those paying ~$300/night that Disney hasn’t given the hotel a needed top-to-bottom refresh in the last few years.
Okay, now that I have all of my grievances with the hotel out of the way, let’s take a look inside the rooms.
Here’s a wide look at the room. Actually not too bad. Clean and contemporary in appearance, with a light, beach-y look and feel.
The bedding is comfortable, albeit not quite on par with the big name Anaheim Convention Center-area hotels. Still, by no means bad, and definitely better than what you’ll find on Harbor Boulevard (but with many of the Harbor Blvd hotels upgrading their bedding as of late, the gap isn’t as large as it was 2 years ago).
There are definitely some nice touches to the room, from the seaside designs of some of the fixtures to the vintage framed Disney cartoon art.
The bathroom is fine, but nothing special.
It’s clean and doesn’t look overly dated (besides perhaps the shower curtain).
The rooms also offer couches, flat-screen televisions, mini-fridges, and safes. By themselves, the guest rooms are actually reasonable nice. It’s the rest of the amenities at the hotel that don’t carry their own weight.
In terms of other amenities, Paradise Pier Hotel is solid, but not great. It has a fitness center, business center, and pool, all of which are fine. The pool is located outdoors on the third floor, and is pretty basic. The water slide is something you won’t find at most other off-site hotels, so that’s a plus. There’s also the PCH Grill on-site, which is a totally forgettable restaurants (besides the awesome straws they give you), and the lounge is basically just a quartered off section of the lobby.
The biggest amenity for most people is probably going to be the morning Early Entry/Extra Magic Hour, which allows early entry into Disney California Adventure or Disneyland an hour before the general public. This can be nice for experiencing Fantasyland in Disneyland or some of the headliners in DCA during busier times of year, but you can just as easily go to the park that is not offering Early Entry at rope drop for similar results. You also have to determine what this perk is worth to you. Is it really worth $100/day?
Overall, Paradise Pier Hotel is an okay hotel if you really want a Disney-branded hotel and can’t get into the vastly superior Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which are two of my favorite Disney hotels anywhere. Paradise Pier Hotel actually does have some charm to it, but we just do not think it’s worth the money. If I were totally oblivious to its price, I would probably enjoy it a bit more. In terms of value for money, I think it’s an incredibly poor option, especially if you’re paying rack rate. Honestly, we’d rather stay off-site and save the money or spend a bit more and stay at Grand Californian or Disneyland Hotel.
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Have you stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel? Do you think I’m being too hard on it, or do you agree that it doesn’t have the same vibe and thematic touches found at most other Disney hotels? Considering this hotel? If you’re a Disneyland regular, do you prefer staying here, Disneyland Hotel, or the Grand Californian? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below!
Honestly Tom, you have a great site but sometimes you try too hard to find things to criticize. We have stayed at Paradise Pier three times (We’ve stayed at the other two DL hotels as well) and we loved it. The rooms are big, the beds are really comfortable, the hotel theming is a lot of fun, and we really enjoyed the PCH Grill. In my opinion the hotel feels very much like a Disney hotel, not a hotel that had “Disney” glued on to the faÃ§ade at a later date and in terms of walking to the parks it is no less convenient than the Disneyland Hotel.
It also has one huge advantage for DVC members. If you want to stay at Disneyland on points and you cannot get a DVC room at the Grand Californian (not an uncommon occurrence), the Paradise Pier is by far and away the most reasonable hotel in terms of Disney Collection points cost. In fact, sometimes a standard room at the Paradise Pier does not cost much more in terms of points than a studio at the Grand Californian and DVC waives the $95 fee for using points for Disney Collection Disneyland.
Would love to know if anyone stayed in the Malibu suite, we have contracted it for our family of 26 along with other rooms, in February. Is there a door that closes off the bedroom
from the rest of the room? Sure hope we won’t be disappointed.
Paradise Piers website says “steps from Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. In fact is over a half a mile to the entrances….round trip is over a mile. I am 68….some health issues…spoke to the manager….no help provided to get a ride to the gate. Would be MUCH better off staying off property and taking a shuttle….they drop you off right by the entrance.
We stayed at PPH this month from September 2-6 2017. It was very disappointing, from the moldy wet smelling carpet in our room to the broken electrical and cable outlets. When the package was sold to me I was told we could enter through the California Grand which turned out to be false. It was a long walk to the park. We’ve stayed in the Disneyland hotel which was a much nicer hotel and cleaner rooms.
I would recommend you do your homework when staying at their hotels.
Thanks for your detailed reviews! My family and I have stayed at the 1 bedroom suites at both the Grand Californian and Paradise Pier. For this room type, I find the value for the money to be much better at the Paradise Pier suites. We had an amazing view of DCA, and every night we watched the World of Color show from our window. Down the hallway was a great spot to watch the fireworks, and we loved falling asleep to the view of Carsland at night. I agree that the amenities were not as nice as GC, but we felt that the view of DCA made it worth it! Each time we got a suite at GC, we had a view of monorail or the pool – not as exciting. You cannot guarantee a theme park view room at GC – this can only be requested at check in – but you can reserve this in advance for PP.
I also agree that PP is a closer walk to the parks, via walking through GC, than Disneyland Hotel. In fact, depending on where your room is at GC, it might take about the same amount of time.
We’ll be there Thursday. Usually stay at GF, but it’s sold out. We’ll see… Happy Halloween.
We stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel on 7-03-15 and it was a big disappointment! The rooms were nothing special, noise from the pool, and terrible elevators!! We waited as long as 20 mins along with other guests. I even considered carrying my baby n the stroller down 8 flights of stairs!! All I heard were guests complaining about the elevators! Our friends were staying at the Springville hotel and were very satisfied! They paid half the amt. of our hotel!The amount of money we paid per night was such a RIPOFF! We know better now and will NOT return.
I am so glad I found this thread. We just booked a theme park view concierge room for August, and I’m beyond excited, despite some of the reviews. I’m happy to hear that the rooms can sleep 5 without paying for an extra rollaway bed. Do all the rooms allow this?
I am a cast member at WDW and have gotten free parking at DL when I’ve visited in the past. Does anyone know if this perk is good at the PCH too? $17/night is quite steep. Do you self park or is it valet?
Do the rooms have balconies?
We just made our first trip to disneyland and for us, the extra $100/night for paradise pier over staying off site was worth it. the rooms were bright, fun and felt like disney. we loved the walk back to the hotel through downtown disney or the grand californian vs being out in the real world on the other side of the street. we didn’t have a theme park view, but did watch world of color from windows near the elevator on one of our non park nights, and found what would have been a *great* viewing spot for fireworks on one of the smoking balconies at the end of the building (but, alas, they were cancelled that night). add in the early entry, which we absolutely took advantage of, the water slide + decent pool area, and the ability to start our day with mickey waffles and we were glad we made the upgrade.
I had guests from out of town who stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I spent a good deal of time here over the last few days (from their check in experience onward) and I basically agree with Tom for the most part. I also recently stayed (last six months) at the GCH and can compare the two with ease.
I’ve always stayed at the Grand Californian and I will say this – the public spaces of that hotel are wonderful and masterful (though the lobby carpet needs a refresher or replacement) and beyond parallel. Definitely not dated. The rooms, however are hit or miss. The regular guest rooms are very, very small (though well themed and cozy. Good for two but not much more). The standard one-bedroom suites are much larger but SPARSE. Mostly decorated with wallpaper, minimal living room and bedroom furniture… compared to a Pelican Hill bungalow (which costs a little less but comes with 5 star ratings and service and ocean views) the standard suite is a let down and NOT worth the premium. A corner suite, however, is like living in a fully furnished and expertly decorated Craftsman bungalow – definitely worth the premium. Grand Californian service, however, is EXTREMELY spotty. Busboys are great. Concierge is hit or miss. Front Desk was hit or miss. Definitely not commensurate with the 5 star price point. Next time I’ll stay on the coast at a true 5 star resort and save 150 bucks.
Paradise Pier Hotel’s room, by contrast, was more spacious and more “completely” furnished. It felt a little dated, like it hasn’t changed much since 2001, but it was cute. The fact they have a sofa that folds backward into an actually comfortable bed was great (Grand Californian only offers a (very nice) padded sleeping bag in most rooms, or a traditional pull out sofa bed in which you can feel the springs.) The service at the PPH was universally attentive and superior to the GCH. At check in my friends were lavished with attention, room was ready early, the man checking them in was totally into the show, and the busboys “peaced out” without giving them a chance to tip them. Have only seen that practice previously at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego. It is a shorter walk to DCA from the PPH than the DLH. The only way the DLH is more convenient is by taking the monorail… which on this trip was only available on one of the four attempts to ride it from the DTD station. It is in the PUBLIC areas that the PPH is a disappointment, and I can totally understand that it may not be worth the price Disney charges. It has its cute touches, and it could definitely use some work as far as the shop, lounge, restaurant, and lobby are concerned to bring it up to DLH standards, but in the end it was a pleasing experience.
Should they lower their rates? Absolutely. Should they be remodeled? Absolutely. Is it THAT much better where it counts (service and rooms) than the GCH? Nope.