Bri Petrarca | @darlingdreamco
Unlike Walt Disney World, The Disneyland Resort has a very limited number of resorts that are on property! There are three to choose from (the Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian, and the Paradise Pier Hotel- soon-to-be the Pixar Place Hotel), and you really can’t go wrong with any of the three. Our family has had the privilege of staying at all three of them over the last year, and we do have our pros and cons to all! These reviews are coming from our stays with our two young kids, and we understand that everyone comes on their vacations during different stages of life!
Top 3 Favorite Things of Each Resort:
The Disneyland Hotel:
Pools and ambiance
When we visited the Disneyland Hotel, we were there in July - the spike of summertime heat! We took full advantage of the pools, and we made the absolute best memories with our boys. The Disneyland Hotel is known for its “monorail slides,” and let me tell you- these were a HIT with both of our boys! Our oldest was 5 years old, and he was able to utilize both of the monorail slides by himself. Our youngest was 2 years old, and he was able to do the smaller monorail slide as well as the kiddy slide by himself. They both had a blast, and we had a hard time getting them out of the slide area! Even my husband went down the biggest monorail slide a couple of times! The slide area is separate from the two large pools and has its own wading pool, which parents can sit in while they wait for their kids to slide, or the kids can run around and splash in. It was the perfect way to spend a hot afternoon when we weren’t at the parks! The entire outdoor ambiance of the Disneyland Hotel is exactly what my adventureland-loving heart craves. The palm trees, the tiki decor, and the true “vacation feels.”
Goofy’s Kitchen is one of four character dining experiences at the Disneyland Resort, and is the only character dining at the Disneyland Hotel. The other three character dining experiences are located at the Grand Californian (2) and inside Disneyland (1). Of the four dining experiences, Goofy’s Kitchen would be considered the most classic. The characters are dressed in fun chef outfits, and the theming is very classic feeling. Here you can dine with Goofy himself, Mickey and Minnie, Pluto, and Chip and Dale! When we visited Goofy’s Kitchen, it was on Christmas Day in 2021, and we went for Christmas dinner. We had a blast- the food selection was delicious, the Christmas decorations were a beautiful touch, and the boys loved seeing all of the characters walking around the restaurant! When we went, the characters still were not stopping at tables to do meet and greets due to guidelines and restrictions, so we had a bit of a different experience in that regard, but their normal table greets are back and we can’t wait to visit again!
When looking up the specs of the room sizes at the Disneyland Hotel, it does seem that their rooms run on the bigger size compared to the two other hotels on property. I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes in reality, but for us, our room seemed huge and we loved it! There was so much space, we were able to have a whole separate area for our youngest to sleep in a full-size pack-n-play away from the beds, and our double BOB stroller fit in a corner out of the way. The room size definitely makes a difference with multiple kids, and this was one of the highlights for us. We are so excited for the DVC tower that is currently being built at the Disneyland Hotel, with a whole new set of rooms being offered to DVC members, and we can’t wait to stay there and see the new rooms!
The Grand Californian:
Easy entrance access to DCA
The absolute best part about the Grand Californian Hotel, in my opinion, is the entrance point directly into California Adventure, and also into Downtown Disney. We utilize these entrance points very often when we’re visiting the parks, even while we aren’t staying at the hotel, but staying in the hotel and having that easy walking access to the parks makes all the difference. When we stayed at the Grand, it was the night before Halloween in 2021, and we did the Oogie Boogie Bash inside of California Adventure. Being able to just walk into the hotel directly from California Adventure with our two sleeping kids in the stroller was a complete game changer, and it was such a convenient way to end the night.
Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast (Storyteller’s Cafe)
Another character dining experience at the Disneyland Resort takes place at Storyteller’s Cafe inside the Grand Californian Hotel. The dining experience itself is called Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast, and we had the opportunity to enjoy this dining experience close to when it had first reopened after the long closure. During this time, the characters weren’t meeting at tables, but they were dancing around the entire restaurant with fun music and waving to everyone as they walked by. Here you can dine with Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, and Pluto, and they’re all dressed in cute adventure outfits! The food for the breakfast dining is phenomenal, and we look forward to visiting again now that regular table greets are back in action!
GCH Craftsman Bar
The GCH Craftsman Bar is one of my favorite table service restaurants on property! It is an outdoor restaurant next to the pool at the Grand Californian, and it has the most beautiful and relaxing ambiance (especially at night!) They occasionally have live music, and there is lounge seating available as well. This restaurant does require a reservation, but the seating in the bar area is first-come-first-serve. The food and drinks that this restaurant serves are superb, and if you aren’t able to get a reservation to the actual restaurant, there is a quick service area past the restaurant (GCH Craftsman Grill) that serves the same food in a grab-and-sit setting!
Paradise Pier Hotel (Soon to be Pixar Place Hotel):
Easy entrance access to DCA
Similar to the Grand Californian Hotel, the Paradise Pier Hotel also has an access point directly into the California Adventure park. Although it is not a straight shot from the hotel to the park (there is a walking path you need to take to get there), it’s nice to have a separate entrance from the rest of the public where you’re able to quickly get through security and into the park. We stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel for Halloween this year when we did the Oogie Boogie Bash, and this separate entrance was a game changer for checking into the party with no wait! It was nice to be able to quickly walk back to our hotel after the party as well, even though it’s a longer walk than the Grand Californian Hotel.
The new theme coming
Although the Paradise Pier Hotel is amazing, it’s about to become even more amazing! Because most of the hotel is currently under renovation, including while we stayed there, we didn’t get to enjoy too much of what the hotel usually has to offer. However, they are doing some serious work to re-theme this entire hotel, and it’s going to be incredible! They are completely transforming this hotel, and creating it to be an entire place of Pixar - the Pixar Place Hotel. We are very excited about this change, and we can’t wait to stay again when it’s complete.
Every Disney hotel has a price tag, and typically they are pretty steep price tags! Although the Paradise Pier Hotel isn’t “cheap,” it is the best price point of the three hotels - especially during the renovation! If you’re looking to stay on property without completely breaking the bank, this is the best option at this time!
Now that we’ve heard a review of the three Disneyland Resort hotels, it’s time to find out… which one is my favorite?
You may have already guessed it: the Disneyland Hotel! The ambiance of this hotel is superior to the other two, in my opinion. The Grand Californian Hotel comes in a close second, but the ambiance is completely different. I like to think of the Disneyland Hotel as a more “family friendly” hotel, and the Grand Californian as somewhere I’d like to stay with my husband on a romantic getaway! Both are Disney hotels, so of course both are very family friendly, but those are the feels I get from them. Disney does an incredible job of making their resort experiences feel like a second home, and we are so grateful we’ve gotten to experience all three of the Disneyland Resort hotels!
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