June 18, 2024

Disneyland Hotel Review

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Disneyland Hotel is the on-site accommodations themed after the park's lands and Walt Disney, himself. This review features room photos; info about pools, restaurants & amenities; pros & cons of staying here; and how DLH

Disneyland Hotel is the on-site accommodations themed after the park’s lands and Walt Disney, himself. This review features room photos; info about pools, restaurants & amenities; pros & cons of staying here; and how DLH compares to the Grand Californian, Pixar Place and other options in Anaheim.

Although Disneyland Hotel is not the flagship hotel at Disneyland Resort (that distinction belongs to the Grand Californian Hotel), it is one of only a few hotels in Anaheim, California with a AAA four-diamond rating. It’s essentially a modern, luxury hotel with Disney design touches and nods to the park’s nearly 70-year history.

As mentioned, Disneyland Hotel is themed to “Disneyland,” with its three hotel towers representing Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Frontierland. In addition to these three hotel towers, there’s now a Disney Vacation Club wing, which is known as the Discovery Tower. Although they’re all technically part of the same resort, there’s a night-and-day difference between the DVC and hotel towers. See our Photo Tour of the Villas at Disneyland Hotel for more on the DVC side.

Disneyland Hotel is a lot like the ‘Remember… Dreams Come True!’ nighttime spectacular. Both are the perfect self-referential tribute that excel because of how they treat the legacy of Disneyland. They’re also impressive in their own right, with no prior knowledge or sentimentality necessary.

This is truly no easy task. It’s so easy to go for cheap plays on emotion (liberal use of Walt Disney’s likeness, for instance) rather than creating a quality product that successfully merges great elements of the past with a quality contemporary product. That’s not the case here–Disney nailed it when they re-designed the Disneyland Hotel.

As it stands, the resort is a great mix of modern design and retro details. Disneyland Hotel feels at once like a love letter to Disneyland and mid-century modern design, while also being an exemplar of the era. One foot in the past, one firmly in the present.

This is not something I would want to see out of every Disney hotel. I am a sucker for themed design, and I love how other Disney resort-hotels manage to transport guests to different times and places through the execution of the hotel. Aside from its mid-century sensibilities, Disneyland Hotel is not really themed. For the most part, it’s decorated. If every Disney hotel were a luxury hotel with tributes to the past, it would get old quickly. However, this is the only one, and it executes perfectly on the concept.

Admittedly, I’m a big fan of the history of Disneyland. I’ve been fascinated by Disneyland Hotel since reading Donald Ballard‘s Disneyland Hotel: the Early Years and his follow-up Disneyland Hotel: 1954-1959 (warning: these books are for serious geeks, not casual fans). These books gave me a great appreciation for the hotel even before we ever stayed there.

Although much has changed at Disneyland Hotel since its early days, it still just feels like a special place thanks to its roots dating back to the Wrathers family and the opening years of Disneyland. Basically, this hotel has just as rich of a history as Disneyland, making it an “essential” place to experience for the diehard Disney fan.

However, it’s not just the hotel’s many nods to Disney history (I wonder how frequently they have to replace the awesome paper-goods in the room because guests take them?) that earn it high marks from us. The hotel is also flat out nice, with lots of mid-century modern flourishes that distinguish it from being just another modern tower-style hotel in Southern California.

In terms of rooms, all of Disneyland Hotel rooms were recently refurbished, and they look great. From the pretty and thick carpet to the textured wallpaper to the bedding, the rooms at Disneyland Hotel scream quality. While we love themed hotels, it seems that one stumbling block to a nice Disney hotel room is execution of a theme.

Disneyland Hotel doesn’t have that obstacle and really hits on everything you’d expect from a nice hotel room. This isn’t to say the room is generic (far from it) as there are touches of Disney everywhere, with photos of Walt Disney and early-era Disneyland all over.

There’s also a strong Mickey Mouse motif throughout the rooms, with Mickey accents and details here and there.

The rooms in Disneyland Hotel are roughly the size of the Grand Californian’s rooms. Not huge, but not bad by any means.

One thing worth noting is that standard rooms do not have balconies. This is a major omission and one that makes the rooms at the Grand California feel larger.

One of the defining features of the rooms at the Disneyland Hotel is the “goodnight kiss” (not to be confused with the Kiss Goodnight at Walt Disney World) switch that lights up the fiber optics in the headboard and plays “When You Wish Upon a Star,” music box style.

Whoever thought up this feature is a genius, because it always seems to be the first thing mentioned when discussing Disneyland Hotel. If you have kids, they’ll love this. If you are an adult who is unduly impressed with things that light up and make sound, like me, you will want to leave this on all night.

One final note on the rooms, and those are the “Signature Suites.” These include the Mickey Mouse Penthouse, Big Thunder Suite, Pirates of the Caribbean Suite, Adventureland Suite, and others. Granted, every hotel has suites, but these look flat out awesome.

We have never stayed in any of these, so we can’t recommend them, but if money is no issue, you definitely ought to look into them. And if by chance we have readers to whom ‘money is no issue’ who need one of these suites tested before their trip, we will gladly accept the assignment should you wish to sponsor the research! 😉

Disneyland Hotel has a variety of amenities, services, and stuff. Pretty much every basic that you’d expect of a high-end hotel, including but not limited to WiFi, a fitness center, gift shops, laundry, the ability to charge purchases to your room, mobile order, and much more. The exact same options you’ll have at Grand Californian or Pixar Place Hotel.

There’s also the big on-site guest perk is Early Entry, which is 30-minute access before park opening that’s only available to guests of the three Hotels of Disneyland Resort. We’ve taken advantage of Early Entry at both parks and found it to be incredibly advantageous. See our Early Entry at Disneyland Photo Report and Early Entry at California Adventure Photo Report: Sarah’s Slingin’ Strategy for a step-by-step look at what we accomplished during the 30 minutes and thereafter for rope drop.

Early Entry is fantastic for Fantasyland or Tomorrowland in Disneyland or Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure. It’s also a great headstart to Cars Land or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. See our Guide to Early Entry at Disneyland for what you need to know about this pre-park opening access to Disneyland and DCA.

In terms of pools, Disneyland Hotel has the E-Ticket pool and D-Ticket pool, in the middle of the hotel’s inner courtyard, both of which are nice. We particularly like the look of the the monorail waterslides, as well as the overall size and layout of these pools. There are also cabanas you can rent.

The massive 4,800-square-foot E-Ticket Pool at Disneyland Hotel really lives up to its name. This features 2 winding waterslides, both feature replicas of the original Mark 1 Monorail trains. There’s the 25-foot-high, 180-foot-long Red Monorail slide or the 13-foot-high, 80-foot-long Yellow Monorail slide.

There’s also a 2-lane mini slide for smaller children with pop jets, fountains, and a waterfall add to the fun. This nostalgic water play area is topped by a “Disneyland” sign reminiscent of the park’s classic years. This entire pool area is top-notch; it’s larger and has more fun on offer than its counterpart at Grand Californian Hotel. If you have kids of any age, there’s little doubt that they’ll love the pools at Disneyland Hotel.

When it comes to dining, Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian have some similarities and differences. Goofy’s Kitchen at Disneyland Hotel is the flagship character meal at Disneyland Resort, and superior to Storytellers Cafe over at the Grand Californian, but both are really good.

On the counter service front, Tangaroa Terrace at Disneyland Hotel can be hit or miss. There are some excellent options and overpriced/undersized ones. Trader Sam’s is in a league of its own as a themed bar, but it leans more heavily on the themed side of that than bar. Also, it gets really busy on weekends and other times when events are in town. It’s a destination bar, whereas the Grand Californian has strong options that draw smaller crowds. (The Villas at Disneyland Hotel now has Palm Breeze Bar, but that’s entirely outdoors, making it a tough sell on chilly evenings–common in Southern California.)

Where things really fall apart for Disneyland Hotel is on the table service front. Following the closure of Steakhouse 55, it doesn’t have a standard table service restaurant (sans characters). The lack of fine dining options is a big misstep for a resort of this caliber, especially when contrasted against the top-tier Napa Rose at the Grand Californian. In fact, I’m not even sure how Disneyland Hotel qualifies for AAA Four Diamond status while not having a traditional table service restaurant. I’m guessing the inspectors haven’t visited in a while?

In our estimation, the resort that gives Disneyland Hotel the closest competition is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Its lobby is absolutely gorgeous, as are its details and finishing. Its location–with a private entrance into Disney California Adventure–also cannot be beat.

The biggest difference between the two is distance from the parks. Disneyland Hotel is about ~10 minutes longer of a walk, which may not seem like much (and it’s entirely through Downtown Disney), but it can be a world of difference if you have small children and want an easy midday break.

In addition to that, Disneyland Hotel is essentially a mid-century modern hotel done by Disney rather than a truly transportive themed resort. It’s all a matter of preference, and while we love the Grand Californian for its authentic Arts & Crafts (National Parks lodge-adjacent) look, Disneyland Hotel is an awesome place to stay. That’s especially true for serious Disney fans who love the history of the parks, Walt Disney’s legacy, or the middle of the last century.

For a more thorough comparison, see Disneyland Hotel vs. Grand Californian.

Disneyland Hotel is often cheaper than Grand Californian, which means it gets the nod for us on those occasions. Exact rates vary based upon season and discounts, but you can typically expect to pay at least $100/night more for the Grand Californian. Pixar Place Hotel seems to generally be about $75/night cheaper than Disneyland Hotel, although we’ve seen Pixar Place effectively more expensive on several occasions due to no availability in its lower room categories.

Regardless of the discount, Disneyland Hotel is still pricey. Whether it’s worth the cost is entirely a matter of preference and budget, but we consider it an easier pill to swallow than the Grand Californian. Still, it’s at least double the price of off-site hotels located about the same distance away (and triple or more the price of off-site hotels located farther away).

We’ve previously debated the merits of staying on-site versus staying off-site at Disneyland Resort, so I won’t rehash those here, but essentially, you pay a significant premium for being “on property.” Disneyland Resort doesn’t have nearly as many on-site hotel rooms as Walt Disney World, and this likely contributes to the rates.

Ultimately, Disneyland Hotel is a nice, luxurious mid-century modern hotel that takes a fond look back at Disney history and is located on-site. We go back and forth over whether we prefer it or the Grand Californian, with the ‘winner’ usually being a matter of which has the better rates (we’d pay a slight premium for Grand Californian).

Despite Disneyland Hotel being farther from the parks than Grand Californian, it’s still a short walk. Thematically, the two are quite different, with Grand Californian having a more refined and distinctly California theme; whereas Disneyland Hotel is a tribute to all things Walt Disney and the early years of Disneyland.

Overall, we both highly recommend Disneyland Hotel. It’s especially great for fans of Disneyland history, or those looking for a luxury hotel experience without the pretense of immersive theming. Those who prefer themed environments will likely prefer the Grand Californian, which definitely has many elements that are more impressive. The big question with regard to Disneyland Hotel is whether it’s worth the high nightly rates, especially with off-site hotels that are very conveniently located by comparison.

Not sure which Disneyland Resort hotel is right for you? Let a professional help you for free. Click here to get a quote from a recommended, no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They get their commission from Disney, so there is no charge to you for them to book your trip and help you plan!

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Disneyland Hotel? Do you like the details and decor of the Disneyland Hotel, or do you feel that it lacks something that the other immersive, themed hotels have? Disappointed that Disneyland Hotel no longer has a normal table service restaurant? Are you a fan of the new Discovery Tower or do you think it detracts from DLH? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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