Pros and Cons of Staying On Site at Disneyland

What are the Benefits of Staying On Site at Disneyland?

Disneyland’s three on site hotels are famous for their friendly service, deluxe rooms and proximity to the Disneyland rides and attractions. They’re also known for being pricey. A room on site can set guests back $150-$300 a night, while some hotels outside the park are as low as $60 a night. This being the case, is staying on site at Disneyland worth it?

The Disneyland Hotels – Not Inside the Theme Parks

Many guests prefer staying on site at disneyland because of the tantalising image of stepping out the hotel door and into the queue for the Matterhorn. In actual fact, none of the Disneyland hotels are actually inside Disneyland. The Disneyland Hotel is separated from both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure by Downtown Disney. Paradise Pier Hotel sits next to Downtown Disney. The Grand Californian Hotel is in DCA and has its own private entrance to that park. Although it is not in Disneyland, the Disneyland monorail runs through the hotel’s courtyard.

Several non-Disney hotels in Anaheim are actually closer to the parks’ entrances than both Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel. In terms of Disney magic, some guests prefer to enter the park through the picturesque main entrance than through the Downtown Disney entrance. For this reason, staying on site is not necessarily the best choice for park accessibility.

Immersion in the Disney Hotels

Although none of the hotels are inside Disneyland itself, it is possible for guests to spend their entire stay without stepping off Disney property. Many guests prefer to stay on site due to this immersion factor – by dining and shopping at Downtown Disney, enjoying Disney-themed rooms and visiting the parks during the day, they can avoid the outside, non-Disney world completely. As the rest of Anaheim is arguably somewhat unprepossessing, some guests find the “magic” of the day broken when they exit the parks.

For true Disney fans, the little touches in the on site hotels make the extra cost worthwhile. Mickey patterns in the wallpaper, wallpaper that lights up with pixie dust at night, and similar quirky bits of Disneyana give the hotel rooms a charm offsite accommodation cannot match. Some guests also enjoy the camaraderie of being around other park guests – it is common for guests to decorate the outside of their hotel doors with photos, whiteboards for leaving messages or Disney stickers.

Guests who have previously stayed at Walt Disney World on site hotels should be aware that Disneyland’s hotels are not themed as completely as some WDW hotels. While the rooms are distinctively Disney, they look like hotel rooms and not like pirate ships.

Perks When Staying in Disney Hotels

Staying in a Disney hotel does have perks, although some of the nicest privileges come with a price tag. Guests shopping on Main Street, USA or in Downtown Disney can have purchases delivered to their hotel gift shop to be picked up later. Children can be woken up in the morning by Disney characters. It’s also possible to arrange ahead of time for personalised Disney merchandise to be delivered to the hotel room, so children are greeted with their very own Mickey ears and T-shirts upon arriving.

Upgrading to Concierge level gets guests a refrigerator in their room, a nightly turndown with Disney-themed sweets on the pillows, continental breakfast, newspapers delivered in the morning, larger rooms, access to the Concierge lounge and a host of other perks.

Disney’s Good Neighbor Hotels

Disney has a “Good Neighbor” relationship with a number of hotels in the Anaheim area – a mutually beneficial arrangement, as Disneyland could not possibly hope to accommodate all out-of-town guests in its three on site hotels. This is good news for travelers as it means there are options when it comes to staying on site at disneyland. Good Neighbor hotels are chosen upon consideration of their amenities, customer satisfaction and proximity to Disneyland. Guests who stay at Good Neighbor hotels receive some of the same privileges as staying on site, such as Magic Morning (Early Entry) and some of Disney’s discounts and travel deals.

Good Neighbor hotels do not have to be within walking distance of Disneyland, although they must be fairly close. Some of the hotels are extremely close to the parks’ entrances. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to staying on or off Disney property. Different families will weight up cost, perks, atmosphere and location and come to different conclusions. For some, a good compromise is spending three nights in a low-budget hotel off site, then splurging for a suite at the Grand Californian on the final night. Beware, though – many families find that once they have stayed on site, it’s hard to go back to regular hotels on subsequent visits!

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