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Our family is going to Disneyland!! Where should we stay?

Planning a trip to Disneyland in California, but confused by all the hotel options?? Don’t worry, we’ve got you! If you have read our previous posts on where to stay at Disney World, you know we are huge advocates for staying on property when on a Disney vacation. We believe one of the most important components of a truly special Disney vacation is being immersed in the magic from beginning to end. There are certainly many off-property options called good neighbor hotels super close to Disneyland, but a great question Colette Spirer, founder and co-owner of Castle Coaches Travel, always asks her clients is, “Do you want a vacation to Anaheim or Disneyland?”

We absolutely understand the need to budget your vacation. A Disney vacation does not come cheap, and many off site hotels will offer a nightly rate at a lower price point. A great way to save money AND stay on property is to reduce your stay by a night or two. Remember Disneyland does not have four giant parks like Disney World. Disneyland has two parks, and you can easily hop between the two with a park hopper ticket. Disneyland also offers PhotoPass (unlimited digital picture downloads) with the addition of Genie+ to your tickets, unlike Disney World where this is a separate purchase.

The perks to staying at a Disneyland Resort also add significant value to your vacation:

  • Extra magic hours (returning by end of summer 2022)

  • Purchases during your park day delivered directly to your Disneyland resort room (returning by end of summer 2022)

  • Easy monorail and walking access to Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney

  • Online check-in/check-out, digital key, and “charge to room” through the Disneyland app

  • “Hey Disney!” Voice assistant in resort rooms (coming soon!)

  • A Disney vacation inside the magic

Disney has three Disneyland Resorts: Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, The Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. All have easy access to both Disneyland theme parks and the Downtown Disney district, with Grand Californian also offering direct access into the California Adventure theme park exclusive to guests staying at GC (can’t beat that convenience!)

As we have stated many times, when vacationing with littles proximity is our number one priority behind staying inside the magic! It is hard to place a price tag on convenience when you have demanding littles still requiring naps and special attention. For that reason, Disney’s Grand Californian will always be our choice (not to mention the deluxe level accommodations!) while our kids are young, but let’s go over each resort for you to have all the info to make your own decision.

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the furthest away from the theme parks of the three, which makes it the best priced. Still walkable and conveniently located, Paradise Pier is currently adding many exciting new additions that should debut in the near future. A new walking path is being added for direct access to California Adventure Park, and a complete Pixar theme transformation is now underway. A variety of room types are offered from standard hotel rooms to 3 bedroom suites for larger families and groups. Paradise Pier also has rooms with views of California Adventure Park.

We love this resort and are beyond excited for the new walking path and Pixar theme!! While renovations are occurring the hotel is staying open, but we recommend holding out for this resort until construction is complete and staying at either The Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian. If you still prefer to stay at Paradise Pier before the reimagining is done, you will have access to the Disneyland Hotel's pool, which is a nice perk in the meantime. We are excited to stay here once the Pixar transformation is complete!

The Disneyland Hotel

This resort is so cool!! Steps away from Downtown Disney, 3 towers paying homage to the original lands of Disneyland (Adventure, Frontier, and Fantasy), and awesome monorail themed pool slides. The Disney theming in the rooms might be our favorite detail of the resort. Um how cool are light-up fireworks on the headboards of your bed with playable music? Yes please! There are room types of all kinds, various suites, and both standard and preferred view rooms available as well.

The Disneyland Hotel is also the home of Goofy’s Kitchen, one of the most popular character dining restaurants on property. You can enjoy a buffet breakfast or dinner while visiting with Goofy and friends at your own resort! The Disneyland Hotel is an excellent choice if you want to stay in the magic, enjoy all the on property benefits, and experience a stay at an iconic Disneyland resort. The Disneyland Hotel definitely has our seal of approval!

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

The Grand Californian is a true deluxe resort with beautiful accommodations, spa amenities, and a private entrance for resort guests to Disney’s California Adventure Park. Numerous dining options from signature level to character restaurants including Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storyteller’s Cafe make this resort a family favorite. GC has a variety of rooms in the craftsman style showcasing California inspired artwork, and the Disney details are stunning. Look for our favorites, Chip and Dale, in the room murals! Disney’s Grand Californian is also a Disney Vacation Club Resort, so more “homelike” room options are available.

Our favorite thing about Disney’s Grand Californian is undoubtedly the convenience to the theme parks and downtown Disney district, but we also love the amenities. If you have ever visited Disney's Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World Orlando then that is a good comparison for the Grand Californian in the looks department. It is hard to describe how both resorts can be rustic yet elegant at the same time. You just need to go see them both for yourself! In our opinion, the Grand Californian does offer more convenient theme park access than Wilderness Lodge, but we are fans of both resorts. The Redwood pool and play area at GC is a favorite for all ages with the winding slide and nearby kiddie area for younger tots. Disneyland's Grand Californian really does have it all, which is why this is our top choice for where to stay at Disneyland.

Where do you stay when you visit Disneyland California? Do you like the benefits of staying on property? Or do you stay at an Anaheim hotel? Please share your thoughts, we'd love to hear from you!


Allyson Marks

Travel Advisor | Blogger

Allyson is an independent travel advisor with Castle Coaches Travel. Her specialty is crafting custom, stress-free vacations for families. Allyson is a former Disney World resort cast member, and currently resides in Raleigh, NC with her husband and 3 children.

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