Pros and Cons to Staying On Property at Disneyland
Updated: Feb 26
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the pros and cons of staying on property or off property at Disney World in Florida. I thought it would be great to explore the same topic for Disneyland in California. You might assume that the pros and cons would be the same and some of them are. However, some of the pros and cons are very different for the Disneyland resort because of the proximity of the two Disney Parks and also the availability of hotels that are very close to the parks without them being official Disney hotels. Also, one of the biggest pros for staying on property at Disney World in Florida is that you can book fastpasses 60 day ahead of your trip. At Disneyland in California the fastpasses cannot be booked ahead of your vacation. You can only reserve fastpasses once you enter the parks in California. Therefore, staying on property when you go to Disneyland in California is less necessary than you might think. However, staying on Disney property is always nice. Let's take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of staying on and off property.
Pros for Staying On Disney Property
* Extra Magic Hours (you get one extra hour each day of your trip at either Disneyland or California Adventure prior the parks opening to off property guests)
* Convenience and proximity to Downtown Disney and the two Disney Parks (Disneyland and California Adventure)
* The hotels are fantastic and you never have to leave the magic of Disney
* Send packages directly to your room when shopping at Disney so you don’t have to carry them around
Cons for Staying On Disney Property
* Cost is higher than most off-property options
* No free breakfast at any of the Disney resort hotels
* Shortage of lodging options for large families other than the expensive suites
Pros for Staying Off Disney Property
* Typically a significantly lower cost to stay off-property
* Many regular hotels offer free breakfast
* You can book accommodations that are larger than a standard hotel room for a reasonable cost
* If you purchase a multi-day ticket for 3 days or more you will get one Magic Morning which is an extra hour in the Disneyland park prior to park opening (you choose T, TH or S)
Cons for Staying Off Disney Property
* You will probably need to have a car, rent a car, take Uber or a shuttle to the parks
* If you drive to the parks you have to pay for parking (about $25 per day)
* Depending on the hotel it could lack proximity to the Disney Parks
Let's Talk About Disney Property
All of the Disney resort hotels are great. At Disneyland in California there are three wonderful resorts to choose from: the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. The Grand Californian is the most expensive and probably the most elegantly themed of the hotels. The resort was built by the Walt Disney Company in 2001 and has an arts and crafts era theme. The Grand Californian is unique from the other resorts because it boasts a private entrance into Disney’s California Adventure theme park. The Grand, as people call it, offers rooms starting in the $600 range per night. This resort also has suites and villas that are all significantly more expensive than a standard room. The villas are part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts and they have kitchens or kitchenettes. You can reserve these special accommodations by purchasing points through a DVC membership.
The next Disney resort option is the Disneyland Hotel. This resort is comprised of three buildings which each have their own names and themes. The hotel originally opened in October of 1955. The Disneyland Park opened in July of the same year so this hotel has been around since the start of it all. Of course the hotel has been remodeled many times over the years and is currently a luxury resort with rooms starting in the $400 range per night. The Disneyland Hotel also offers suites that are double or triple the cost of a standard room.
The last Disney resort at Disneyland is the Paradise Pier Hotel. This hotel was originally built and operated by the Tokyu Group. It opened in 1984 with the name Emerald of Anaheim. Disney bought the hotel in 1995 and then later re-branded it with the name Disney’s Paradise Pier in 2000. This hotel has also undergone several renovations and is now a luxury resort with rooms starting in the upper $300 range per night. This hotel, like the other two Disney resorts, has suites that are available for triple or quadruple the cost of a standard room.
We have never stayed at a Disney resort but we enjoy visiting the lobbies of these gorgeous hotels on every visit to Anaheim. A few times we have splurged for the character breakfasts at the Disneyland Hotel or the Grand Californian. The Paradise Pier also has a character breakfast. If you don’t want to splurge on a Disney hotel but you want to do something a little extra a character breakfast would be a great idea. To find out how much a stay at one of the Disney Resorts would be for your next trip or to book a Disney character dining experience you can click those links in the text.
Summer is right around the corner. Are you ready for the heat? Disney fans love these cooling towels and water misters for the parks. And don't forget the sunscreen. These are great products for summer at home too! These are Amazon links and if you purchase something I get a small commission at no cost to you. You get the same regularly low Amazon prices. Thanks!
Let's Talk about Staying Off-Property
As I mentioned earlier we always stay off property when we go to Disneyland. Our main reason we do this is because the cost is so much less for an off property hotel. We also like getting a free breakfast at our hotel so we can eat a good meal before going into the parks. We find that we buy less food in the parks when we have eaten a good breakfast in the morning. We have also stayed at a few hotels with larger accommodations (see below) that worked well for our family of six. The last reason we choose off property at Disneyland is that you can still get pretty close to the Disney Parks without being on property. You can also drive to the parking garage and it's not too bad considering your cost savings. Disneyland has many Good Neighbor Hotels that are almost as close as the Disney property hotels and you can even book Good Neighbor Hotels on the Disneyland website. Sometimes there are special package deals for Good Neighbor Hotels with tickets as well. When booking a Good Neighbor Hotel be sure to check out the location on a map because some are much closer to the gate than others.
One of our favorite off property hotels that we have stayed at is the Hyatt House in Cypress/Anaheim. My husband was given some free hotel stays through his work and this was one of the options we had. We liked this hotel because they had one bedroom suites with kitchenettes so there was ample space for our family of six. They also had a wonderful complimentary breakfast that we really enjoyed and a great pool. The drive from this hotel to the Disney parking garage was about 16 minutes. We didn’t mind the short drive because the hotel had large suites and a satisfying breakfast. Our stay was complimentary through my husband’s job but their regular prices are very reasonable. If you want more information about the Hyatt House in Cypess/Anaheim you can click that text link.
Another one of our favorite places to stay in Anaheim is the Hilton Homewood Suites Anaheim Convention Center. The suite we stayed in had a kitchen/living room and a separate bedroom area. There was a pullout couch on the kitchen/living room side and, a king size bed for parents and bunk beds for kids on the other side. Our kids really loved the bunk beds and we always enjoy having a suite with more space than a standard hotel room. This hotel also had a huge and fabulous breakfast each morning. There are several Hilton hotels near Disneyland that would all be wonderful to stay at. If you want more information about this Homewood Suites by Hilton you can click that text link.
Other Great Lodging Options
We have booked many of our hotels for Disneyland vacations and other trips through priceline.com. We have always been able to find great deals and nice hotels when we chose a 2 star or better hotel. Most of the 2 and 3 star hotels also offer free breakfast when you book a room so that's a huge bonus for us. Getting some free meals during your Disney vacation will save you a significant amount of money on your trip. You might even chose to splurge on a nicer sit-down dining experience while you are in the parks if you feel like you are spending less by getting free breakfasts at your hotel.
There are some other great options for places to stay in Anahiem, CA that I wanted to highlight as well. I recently found a great way to book a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resort without joining the DVC. There are a couple of options for renting DVC points: Dave's Vacation Club Rentals or the DVC Rental Store and they both have the option of renting points for the Grand Californian Resort (remember that’s the only Disney property in California that has the DVC option). Dave's also has a Disney cruise swap option. Of course, if you want a less expensive way to enjoy a larger space than a hotel room and/or you have a large party you can also check out VRBO through the link below or on our SHOP Page. WARNING!!! The city of Anaheim placed a ban on short term rentals a few years ago. Some short term rentals are operating on waivers but some are operating illegally and can be shut down on short notice. Therefore, it could be risky to do VRBO or Airbnb in Anaheim. However, VRBO is also a great way to rent out your own home when you are away on vacation so you might want to check out the link below for more information on that. Just a note that VRBO is an affiliate link so I could make a small commission at no cost to you if you book a place or sign up as a host. Thanks for your support of Destination Families!
Free Packing List
I have created a free download with our Disney parks travel checklist (see below). This list includes all of our 10 essential items for every family trip on the left and our 10 essential items for Disney Parks on the right. Please see our packing blogs for more details about each item on the list: 10 Things to Bring to Disney Parks and 10 Things We Bring on Every Family Trip.
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