The debate about staying at a Disney-owned hotel (known as “on-property”) is a lively one at Walt Disney World. Passholder Diva has decided she will never stay off-property again at Walt Disney World. The conversation about staying on- vs. off-property at Disneyland is a much different discussion, since there are only three on-property hotels at Disneyland, and they are priced similar to Deluxe hotels at Walt Disney World. In order of least to most expensive for similar type rooms, they are Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, the Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. On a recent trip in July 2018, our family stayed at Disney’s Paradise Pier hotel for the second time, and here are our thoughts.
First a quick review of the standard hotel room. Like all Disney hotels, this one has a theme, which is a California Boardwalk. The colors are bright, and decorations in the room all revolve around this theme. We had a standard room with two Queen beds and a day bed. There was also a Pack-N-Play in the closet if you have a young one with you. The room was not large, but big enough for the four of us to not be on top of each other. There was a small refrigerator in the TV console, which is one of my must-haves in a hotel room. The bathroom was also not large and it is fully contained in one room (sink is not outside the bathroom), so it doesn’t allow for someone to get ready outside the bathroom while someone else is using it. The closest was large with two mirrored sliding doors, and there is a Keurig coffee station next to the bathroom.
We received some Disney Magic from the Cast Member checking us into the hotel, and were upgraded to a Premium View. These rooms are on the upper floors and face east so that your view is directly into Disney California Adventure Park! When World of Color is being shown, you can watch the fountains and projections from the comfort of your room! We were also able to see some of the floats during the Paint the Night parade, but they were not that easy to see through the Palm trees.
Now that you know about the rooms, do you want to stay here? Below are my thoughts on the type of Disney Guest that will enjoy their stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.
You want the perks that come with staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel for the most economical price. Rooms at the Paradise Pier Hotel can start as low $270/night, while summer and peak season rates can start in the mid-$300s or more. That can much less than staying at one of the other two properties and you receive the same benefits. These benefits bring a bit of extra magic you can’t experience if you stay off-property. Some of them are Extra Magic Hour each day, Character wake-up calls, preferred access reservations, and hotel package delivery. You can read a full description of each is at the Disneyland website. One of the perks is the Get Up & Go Power walk offered each morning. Read my review about this walk here.
You are OK with a walk to get to the Park entrances. The other two Disney Resort Hotels are closer to the action. From Paradise Pier, you must exit to the rear of the hotel, walk on a path in front of the Disneyland Hotel, and enter through security at the west end of Downtown Disney. From here, you can take the Monorail directly into Disneyland, or you will need to walk all the way through Downtown Disney to access the main gate into Disneyland or into Disney California Adventure (DCA) Park. The full walk will take a casual walker 10-15 minutes. Note that you cannot use the gate into DCA from Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. Unlike the time we stayed at this hotel in 2013 and used that entrance, we were told by the Cast Member when we checked in that this entrance is only for guests of the Grand Californian. You can use that gate to exit DCA though.
You don’t need resort-type grounds. Unlike the other two hotels, the Paradise Pier Hotel does not have expansive grounds. The hotel pool is unique in that it is on the rooftop of the 3rd floor, but that means you will miss the expansive walk-ways, greenery, and ‘resort’ feel that you will have at the other two hotels. We spent a couple of hours at the pool and found room on a hot July day under an umbrella. The slide was fun, and you can adjust how fast you go by sitting up or laying back, but it is not for a super thrill seeker. Unfortunately, we were not impressed with either drink we ordered from the hotel pool bar, so I would skip spending your Disney bucks there. There were cast members assisting guest with games just outside the pool area, so check the Hotel guide to see when games will be played during your trip.
There is a glass elevator, which is very resort-like. But you cannot choose to ride this elevator, as there isn’t a button for it. You ‘order’ and elevator by touching the number of your floor onto a tablet at the elevator bank, and it lights up with a letter of which of the four elevators you will ride to your floor. We did end up on the glass elevator several times,but it is purely by chance.
You want to view the fireworks while your family sleeps upstairs. This is exactly what my daughter and I did while the rest of the family slept. Just take a right when you exit the 3rd floor and head all the way to the wall. A Cast Member will be there to direct you. We went about 10 minutes before the show was to start and had a great spot. It never filled up so everyone was able to stand at the wall. At showtime, the lights on the deck are dimmed, and speakers pipe the music onto the deck. It was great!!
Is it right for you? Yes, if you understand it has a different feel from most other Disney properties and want to stay in the most economical choice to experience that Disney Magic. If you can stretch your budget, I would recommend staying at the Disneyland Hotel over Paradise Pier Hotel. The Disneyland Hotel, with its expansive grounds, great pools, and location, would be my first choice. If you want to see which one fits your budget, be sure to contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel for a free quote.
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