10 Reasons to Stay at the Disneyland Hotel
Updated: Apr 8
We are big Disneyland fans in this house and our all-time favorite place to stay when we vacation there is the Disneyland Hotel.
You surprised I didn’t say the Grand Californian? I mean that is the nicest and most expensive of the Disney resorts at Disneyland.
While the Grand Californian is nice, I think all true Disney fans should stay the Disneyland Hotel at least once.
I mean, it is the original hotel. The main man himself, Walt Disney, played a role in its creation and stayed here. According to Designing Disney in 1954 Walt Disney asked his friend Jack Wrather to build the hotel to compliment his soon to be opened theme park.
The hotel has grown and changed a lot over time (it used to have a mini-golf course!), but you can’t change the fact that it was the very first hotel meant to serve the guests of Disneyland Park.
It’s one of the places that started it all and is just one of the many reasons why every Disney fan should stay at the Disneyland hotel at least once.
Here are nine more reasons why you should stay at the Disneyland Hotel.
Disney History and Touches Everywhere
As you would expect from the original Disneyland hotel, there is a nod to the history of the park everywhere. Each tower of the hotel is named after one of the lands in Disneyland: Frontier, Fantasy, and Adventure.
As you walk through the hotel and between each tower everything changes to fit to its theme: the plants, the music, and the décor. Yes, the plants are different depending on what tower you are nearest.
One of my favorite things about the nod to Disneyland history at the hotel are the Disneyland ride models and memorabilia that are scattered around.
The Fantasy Tower houses the main lobby and features giant teacup booths in a nod to Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Fantasyland. The Adventure Tower has a mural of the land’s famous archway sign and a series of statues modeled after the animals on the Jungle Cruise.
But my favorite is probably the giant model of my all-time favorite Disney roller coaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, in the lobby of the Frontier tower. It is a recreation of the original “concept model” Disney Imagineers made when they were designing the ride. It has everything: its famous peak, the dinosaur bones, the gold mining town, little replicas of the train cars, and more. Even the ride que is there in all its glorious detail.
Every major Disney fan will be happily drowning in in all the Disney nostalgia that surrounds you in this hotel. But it doesn’t just stop in the lobbies.
There are hidden Mickey’s in the carpet and furniture of your hotel room, pictures of Walt himself walking through his beloved park, even a Mickey hand holding the lamps in the hotel room bathrooms. Disney nostalgia is everywhere! And it’s glorious.
Location, Location Location!
The Disneyland Hotel sits at the end of Downtown Disney, so you can head right out of the hotel and into all the action and excitement that goes on there. Besides all the great restaurants and shops, there is usually live music and entertainment happening all up and down the mall. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out when I’m not in the parks.
It is a quick and easy walk to the parks, making it ideal for early morning park hours, sneaking back in the middle of the day for a break, and getting cranky and tired family members quickly into bed at the end of the day. No bus ride needed!
Not feeling up for a walk through Downtown Disney? No problem! The monorail stop is right near the entrance of the hotel and can whisk you to and from Tomorrowland with ease.
Oh, and big bonus: the security check point on the end of Downtown Disney the Disneyland Hotel is at typically has the shortest wait.
The large size of the hotel rooms
We are a family of five, so finding a standard hotel room that comfortably fits all of us can be a challenge. But we don’t have to worry about that at the Disneyland Hotel. The rooms are all a great size, even the basic, standard rooms.
Most have 2 queen beds and a sleeper sofa that is actually very comfortable. Our youngest daughter typically sleeps on that. But I’ve napped on it as well and found it to be plenty big and comfortable enough for a normal size adult.
The room features a large armoire with drawers, a TV, coffee pot, and small refrigerator. There is also a desk, big closet, and bathroom with shower, tub combo, and sink with plenty of space for storage. Best part, these are separated away from the beds and armoire. If you need to get some work done while others are sleeping, you can do so easily without disturbing anyone.
It also gives you a great spot to park your stroller. You don’t even have to fold the stroller up; you still have plenty of space to move around. Huge plus for larger families with small children.
The Light Up Headboards on the Bed
All the beds at the hotel have light up headboards that play "When You Wish Upon a Star" when you turn them on.
The headboards feature a carving of Sleeping Beauty's castle, fireworks and stars. As you would expect, the stars and fireworks are what lights up when you turn it on. It's one of my kid's favorite features of the hotel.
And bonus, it serves as a fantastic nightlight!
The Amazing Pool
I know this is subject to opinion, but I’m a huge fan of the pool at the Disneyland Hotel. I think it could be the best one in Anaheim.
One, it's HUGE. There are two levels of pools people.
It also has two water slides, spas, and is heated so you can swim year-round. The water slides are made to look like the Monorail and it even features a replica of the old school Disneyland Park sign. (More Disney nostolgia!)
They provide life jackets for your less experienced swimmers and there is a splash area that is shallow near the water slides, making it easy for even the youngest of kids to get in the pool.
I highly recommend planning a pool day for the middle of your trip. It's a great way to rest up and recharge from all that park time. And the Disneyland hotel is the perfect pool to recharge in.
The Food Options
Bring your appetite because there are some yummy food options at the Disneyland Hotel.
Goofy’s Kitchen is there and is my favorite character dining experience at the park. It typically features Goofy, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale. But the best part is it is the only character dining option at Disneyland that has a dinner option. Everywhere else just does breakfast!
Best part about dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen is it features Mickey as the Chef. You arrive, greet and take your picture with Mickey, then head in for a delicious buffet and more interactions with the characters.
Pro Tip: Make a reservation at Goofy’s Kitchen for the night you arrive if your flights allow it. It’s a great way to kick off your vacation and you won’t spend precious park time at a lengthy character meal.
If you are looking for a more adult dining experience, make sure to check out Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, right next to the pool. It is a great spot to end the night with a good cocktail and appetizers. Some nights it even features live music out on the adjoining terrace.
Steakhouse 55, a highly rated steakhouse is located on site as well.
If you are looking to grab something quick before you head to the parks in the morning, check out The Coffee House. They have quick breakfast options you can grab, including cereal, muffins, and my favorite fruit and yogurt parfait.
We like to grab a carton of milk from the coffee shop to keep in our room fridge during the week. We bring bowls and little cereal boxes from home, use the milk from the coffee shop, and have breakfast in our room before heading out to the parks for the day. It’s a great and way to save money on food during your trip without having to bother with grocery delivery service.
Early Park Access
Also a plus for any of the Disney Resort Hotels is the ability to get into both Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park every day of your stay that you have a valid park ticket for with the Extra Magic Hour.
This is different than Magic Morning, which allows anyone with a three-day ticket or more to get into Disneyland Park an hour early ONCE.
Disneyland Hotel guests can get into either Disneyland Park or California Adventure Park one hour each day. For us that usually means getting into the parks early FIVE TIMES.
This is HUGE for California Adventure Park since it is only available to Disney Resort Guests. It really feels like a ghost town, there are so few people in there usually. You can usually walk on Radiator Springs, which if you frequent Disneyland know typically has an hour or more wait no matter the crowd level of the park.
There have been times we’ve gone on Radiator Springs, got off and went right back on again. Not to mention all the opportunities to get great photos of you and your family in front of some of the major Disney landmarks without a ton of people in the background.
Check out this blog post I wrote for more details on whether its worth staying on property at Disneyland.
Spontaneous Character Sightings Possible
I don’t like leaving the “Disney Bubble,” as I like to call it when I’m vacationing at Disneyland. And when you stay at the Disneyland Hotel you don’t have to.
The Disney magic follows you from the park back to your hotel room. The music, the feeling of happiness, the happy smiling people, it’s all at the hotel too.
And the character sightings do too. On one of our trips we just happened to run into Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip and Dale in the hotel lobby when we were stopping by for something else.
They interacted with all the kids, posed for pictures, signed autographs, just as they would if you ran into them in the parks. But this time there weren’t a ton of people fighting to see them and if felt a little more personal and special because it was so spontaneous. Like running into an old friend unexpectedly.
Not something you can experience at just any hotel!
Special Disney Perks
Staying at a Disneyland resort hotel means you get a bunch of extra perks. That includes priority access to reservations at some of the top dining locations on property, as well as last minute tickets to some of the after hours or special events.
Forgot to get your Halloween party tickets in advance? No problem if you are a Disney resort guest! They sometimes hold a limited number of party tickets and make them available to resort guests on the day of on a first come, first serve basis.
The attention to detail in all the small things at the Disneyland hotel is what makes it so Disney, and so fantastic. If you are a big Disney fan, want to stay in comfortable and luxurious accommodations while immersing yourself in the history and magic of this great park, make sure you put a stay at the Disneyland Hotel on your Disney bucket list.
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