|Here is my room, before it was lived in. The beds in the
Grand Californian are absolutely lovely.
“We’ll be at the park all day, so it doesn’t even matter what hotel we stay at.”
I have heard this too many times to count from people (and myself at times) who are planning a trip to Disneyland. And maybe in my pre-children days, yes. But, if you have ever shared this thought or wondered about the importance of picking the right hotel, this post is for you.
I tend to think there are two kinds of vacationers – the super-laid-back-go-with-the-flow vacationers and the go-go-go-do-it-all kind. When I’m at a Disney Park, I’m the latter – I’ll be out the door at 7:00 in the morning and not come back again until sometime after midnight. You know what I’m talking about, right?! It makes sense to wonder if the hotel really matters if you’re not planning on being there that much!
Well, I’ve tried them all – I’ve stayed in what I would definitely call a “dump” all the way up to as good as it gets, and several in between. Whether you’re laid back or have a printed, laminated itinerary of your daily schedule, my feeling is that the hotel. does. matter.
When taking little kids, this becomes even more important for those who have to walk back and forth between hotel and park for naps, because you left something there, or for a spit-up catastrophe that requires changing and washing clothes–you get the picture. These minor things can become major if you’re looking at a super long walk to and from, or even the inconvenience of waiting for a shuttle bus that takes precious extra time out of your day.
If you want to stay on Disney property, the Grand Californian is the closest – in fact it even has its own entrance into Disney California Adventure park. The Disneyland Hotel is next closest (boy, do I want to stay here someday! Read more about it here), and farthest from the parks on property is Paradise Pier Hotel. Of the off-property hotels, the one that claims to be the closest is the Best Western Park Place Inn & Suites, which is literally right across the street from the Harbor Boulevard entrance, but there are several hotels that are literally only a few steps further in either direction. If the address is in the 1500s or low 1600s, on Harbor Boulevard, then you won’t have much of a walk. Be wary of hotels that state that they are the closest to the parks – some of them may be closer as the crow flies – but not closer to walk to. If we are looking to stay at a new place that we haven’t before, I use Google Earth to find the entrance and then the hotel to best see how close it is.
2. Suites – If you have a large family or travel with extended family or friends, like us, a hotel with suites may be a better fit for your group. Many hotels offer family suites that include separate sleeping and television quarters for the kids. Many even include bunk beds.
|Swimming pool at the Hilton Anaheim, one of Lisa’s
favorite off-property hotels.
3. Swimming – If you are visiting in the hot summer months, a pool break in the middle of the day can be the perfect way to cool off, rest, and soothe your feet.
|I spy Bambi characters! Wish I could take
this shower curtain home with me.
6. Reviews – It is very important to check reviews to see what people have to say about the quality and cleanliness of the rooms. Many hotels have been named by Disney as “Good Neighbor Hotels” (off property hotels that Disney reviews and recognizes), but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are 4-star places, so still check the reviews for these hotels as well. (Lisa had a very unpleasant stay at a Good Neighbor motel.)
|This is a view of Lisa’s messy room
at the Grand Californian. We figured
we might as well show a “real life”
photo since this is how everyone’s room
looks in the morning!
If you are not on a budget or have a little more to spend, (first of all, congratulations!) then I 1,000% recommend the on-property Grand Californian Hotel. My parents took us to stay here once and it was phenomenal. Being on property and having that Disney theming made it extra magical, the rooms were so lovely and had the best layout for setting up a pack-n-play, the pool area is super fun, not to mention being able to walk straight out of my hotel and into a park – amazing! If I could stay here, or any on-property hotel, I would every time. Unfortunately though, the prices are really steep and that will probably be the only time we will stay there, but I’m so glad to have been able to do it once! Click here for a tip from Lisa on choosing a hotel.
|My kids playing on a sheet on the hotel floor.|
- Bring a large sheet or ask the hotel if you can have an extra one. Little kids, especially babies learning to crawl and walk, want to be out and down as often as you’ll let them. No matter how clean the hotel room appears it still grosses me out that my baby has her face inches away from an unknown floor, so it helps to spread out the sheet and designate it a play area.
- Bring comforts from home. For example, my kids both sleep with nightlights and white-noise machines, so we bring these with us when we stay at a hotel. Once when we didn’t bring a nightlight, we turned out the lights to sleep for the night and the pitch black completely unhinged my son. Also bring a blankie or lovie, something else that feels and smells like home and will be comforting.
- Bring your own portable crib. The Disney hotels had nice, new ones – but at other hotels we’ve had to use their ancient, enormous, metal-bar ones… yikesies. When you bring your own, you know what you’re getting and you know it’s clean, plus it smells like home and is more familiar to your children. A heads-up, while airlines don’t charge for strollers and car seats, unfortunately they do count a portable crib as a checked piece of luggage.
Lisa’s kids sleeping at the Hilton Anaheim. Aidan
decided he wanted to sleep in two club chairs pushed
together instead of the room’s extra bed! It was the
perfect size. They always bring a pack and play!
- (This may not be at all helpful for you, but…) Attempt to block your child’s view of you. My kids sleep really well in their own room by themselves, and when they’re in a room with other people it just makes it harder for them to fall and stay asleep, so we’ve gone so far as to rearrange hotel furniture to put the crib as far away as possible to block noises, light, and us to help the kids feel more like they do when they are at home.