Staying at the Disneyland Hotel has been a dream of mine since 2011, when I visited for the Disneyland Half Marathon, but I never imagined that I’d have the chance to stay there! You see, we’re Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Members, so the most economical lodging, if available, is the Villas at the Grand Californian (where I’m fortunate to have stayed four times in the past), or off-property. For the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2013, I used points for Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, which was nice, but when the opportunity presented itself to use points for the signature hotel of the Disneyland Resort this past vacation, I jumped for it!
The point exchange was high, but with regular room rates for the “level” of room we were interested in starting at $430/nt, it was still “reasonable” for our three night stay.
Now, I must admit, I had to work at managing expectations of our stay – I mean, I love, Love, LOVE the Grand Californian. It’s my favorite of all Disney resorts I have stayed at (and I’ve stayed at almost all Walt Disney World Resort hotels, as well as Disney’s Aulani pt 1 and pt 2) but I mean, The Disneyland Hotel? LEGEND, right? I had stopped in to eat there at Steakhouse 55, hang out at Trader Sam’s,attend the race expos, and stop in the gift shops, but I had never stepped inside a guest room.
So, on May 12 – dreams came true!
We arrived on site via the Disneyland Express (see more about that in my trip recap / tip post here) at around 1 PM-ish and much to our surprise, our room was actually ready! That was a great surprise! We were given our room keys, and headed on over to the Frontier Tower, where our room was located, on the 7th floor.
Now, I am not one to be picky about room views, but I do appreciate a good one – and this one certainly delivered! It was peaceful, colorful, and lively all the same time! Despite being quite close to the actual pool, the window glass was obviously very thick, and the room was very quiet.
The room itself was very nicely appointed, and large! There was a nice sitting area in the front portion, equipped with a writing desk, and nice sized closet. In the main living area, there were two queen beds, a daybed, a TV, dresser, and mini fridge, plus space for the stuff of four adults and one little (including a stroller)!
Now, I always seem to forget to take many room photos (obviously I do not excel at travel blogging, haha) but one thing I did make sure to capture was this beautiful black and white photo collage. I loved all the details and juxtaposition of architecture, nostalgia and quirkiness.
Since we’d be out and about that evening, I wanted to set up Abby’s pack and play (I had checked in advance – they are available in every room, no need to call ahead) so I pulled it out of the closet, and attempted to assemble it. I say “attempted” because, well, it was not working out! Haha! I have set up quite a few, but was wondering if my travel-logged brain was not computing! I asked my sister to give it a try, but she too was unable. After a call to housekeeping, a nice maintenance man came by and confirmed that ours was faulty (as well as a second one he brought up), but number three was the charm! This took a little longer than would have been desirable if we had had big plans that evening, but it worked out, and the cast member was very friendly and helpful, so it wasn’t a huge deal. Around that time, Jillian arrived (she had traveled earlier) so we all had a fun little reunion!
From there, we headed over to have a bite to eat at Tangaroa Terrace (plus, drinks from Trader Sam’s)! Service was a little slow, but it was very busy and the food was worth the wait! We also noted that the high chairs available were nice and new, so that was a plus.
Now, I should also note that my opinion on Disney Resort hotels has changed since becoming a mom! Before, my main requirements were a nice shower and comfy bed – because spending any other time in the room was very minimal! But now, we are in the room more – whether preparing for the day, napping halfway through, or chilling around our earlier bedtime – and the Disneyland Hotel fit the bill for that all!
This trip also marked the first time I visited a Disneyland Hotel pool – and wow, it will NOT be the last! The pool area was so nice – beautiful sunny weather helped, but low crowds were even better! We found loungers near the spa area, and while Jillian and Jenni held down the sunbathing/ tropical drink department, Abby and I splashed and played in the shallow pool area, and even rode down the small slide!
(Side note: even littles need to ride on their own – don’t try putting them in your lap! I read the rules in entirety, but wrongfully assumed that infants/toddlers were exempt from that rule – I had the lifeguard whistle blown at me, whooops!!! So, Abby was braved and tried it once on her own, bonus).
As always, our stay went by too fast, and we didn’t get to explore every nook and cranny, but we did get a chance to take advantage of one really fun guest recreation amenity – the scavenger hunt! I mean, check out these sweet prizes (more deets and other fun stuff, I mean, tons of fun stuff – on the MK Mamas blog)
Now, you must be curious…did our stay live up to my expectations? YES! Resounding yes! But…did it claim the top spot in my Disney Hotel ranking (which I should totally work on so that can be officially official)?
Okay, it’s definitely in my Top 10, but here’s a quick pro/con list to justify my ranking:
- Efficient check-in experience
- Lovely details inside and super lush landscaping outside
- Location to race expo and security checkpoint for parks and race
- Large, nicely appointed guest room
- Lovely views
- Although efficient, our check-in felt very impersonal. The CM was quick but very curt. In the past, when we stayed at The Grand Californian, we got a balloon, first visit button, signed photo of Mickey and Minnie, and most importantly, enthusiasm and a smile!!!
- The shower was THE WEIRDEST EVER. Two of the three showers I took had hot water only running into the tub – the shower water was lukewarm at best, though went to cold and colder in the few minutes I stood there.
- The room itself, though grand – didn’t seem in “tip top” / modern shape. There was rust on the light fixtures, and there were nowhere near the amount of outlets needed to charge devices. I thought the desk outlets would be enough, but they weren’t all functioning.
So, all in all – the cons were more like irritations and did not tarnish our experience – I mean, I could have stayed another three days and still not experienced all the amazingness around each corner.
I would definitely recommend staying here to any Disney fan at least once, though the Grand Californian, will continue to hold the title as my all-time fave!