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The Pros and Cons of Disney Owned Hotels at near Disneyland with Celina



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Show Summary

Trying to decide if it is worth the extra cost to stay at the Disneyland Hotel, Pixar Place, or The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa? Celina and Robyn share the benefits of staying on versus off property at the Disneyland Resort. Celina will share the reasons why she loves staying at Disney-owned properties, and Robyn will share why she usually opts for off-property hotels.


We discuss the perks and exclusive access that enhance the magic for on-site guests and share personal experiences that we have had over the years. 


Chapters and Time Stamps

0:00 Intro


Show Transcript

Welcome to the ParkMagic podcast, your place for insider tips for your next Disneyland adventure. Whether you're a first-timer or first time in a while visitor, we're here to unwrap the secrets to creating and simplifying your dream Disneyland vacation.


Robyn:
Is Staying at A Disney Hotel Worth It?

We're back, giving you more tips for planning your next Disneyland adventure. And I have repeat guest Selena back on because we have so much fun together. We love recording, and we both have this big love for Disney. And we agree on most things, like there's a lot of things that we see completely 100% eye to eye on. And there's some things that we have slight disagreements on. And today, we're talking about one of the things that Selena and I slightly disagree on. Even though both of us have stayed at pretty much all of the Disneyland hotels and many of the hotels that are within walking distance, and even driving distance, we each have different preferences. Selena, what is your preference when it comes to staying at the Disneyland Resort?


Selena:

I am on property 100%, on property, I won't go off property anymore. The last time I did was in 2019. And I vowed that it would be the last time, barring something insane happening like if I were to get a comp week over by the convention center or something, but absolutely, I’m 100% on property. And my preference of the three on-property hotels at the Disneyland Resort is, of course, the classic Disneyland Hotel.


Robyn:

And if you're new to like Disneyland lingo, we talked about on-property and off-property. When we think on-property, we mean one of the three Disneyland hotels. That means the Disneyland Hotel, Grand Californian, and Pixar Play Hotel, which is very nice and newly remodeled. And the benefit, people will also say, like, in the Disney bubble or outside of the Disney bubble. Because when you stay on-property, you're kind of enveloped in this whole Disney atmosphere. You never leave; you don't see a CVS, you don't see a Walgreens, everything is Disney, and so you never kind of leave the world of imagination right there. Off-property would be any hotels that are not owned by Disneyland, even though they can be very close to the actual land of Disneyland.


Why Celina Loves Staying at Disney Owned Hotels

So, do you want to start, Selena, talking about why you love staying at the Disneyland properties? And they are magical, I mean, they - I mean, the little magical touch. It is a wonderful experience.


Selena:

Oh, yeah, it makes a huge difference. And, you know, part of it is what I grew up staying there at, at a certain point, you know, that was like our big family vacation for the year, was going to Disneyland every year. And so my parents pulled out all this stuff. And then they got to a point where they didn't want to walk that long distance between the main gates of the park and any of the off-property hotels. I love everything you were describing about being in the Disney bubble. I like that, you know, the atmosphere doesn't end when the park quote ends its operating day. I also like the convenience of the walking distance. Right now, I've got two little kiddos; they're three and six. They need naps in the middle of the day, and it's much easier to pack them up and roll them down Downtown Disney to either one of the three hotels, usually just in that hotel. It's convenient, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy Disney, but those are the two biggest reasons for me.


Robyn:

It's going to be significantly more expensive, unlike Disney World. If you go to Disney World, almost everybody wants to stay on property; staying on property is a much bigger thing.


Disney Owned Hotels Are More Expensive

So if you came from a Disney World experience, you might think the only way to experience Disney is staying on property, but here there's very few hotels; there's only three, and there's a lot of people that want to stay there, so they can charge a lot. Like, it's not abnormal for those hotels to be $567, $800 a night; suites can be even more. So it is expensive for someone who's saying, ‘Well, you know, I can afford it, but is it worth it?’ What are some of the considerations that you look at?


Selena:
Location, Location, Location

Biggest one is the location factor, how close it is, and I know, having been to Disney World twice, only twice, and with Disneyland being my home park, when I saw the sprawl of Disney World and how long it took to get from a hotel to one of the parks, I was like, ‘Oh, okay, this is a whole new world for me.’ But three Disneyland hotels are within walking distance, and by walking distance, I mean it takes, at the longest, we'll say things are in place. Hotel is maybe 20 minutes from hotel to Disneyland main gate; a little bit shorter if you're going over to California Adventure theme park.


Robyn:

And Pixar place now has a back entrance to California Adventure so.


Selena:

And if you're seeing that the Disneyland Hotel, and you can also use that entrance that it's not specific to the Pixar place guests although all of the signage is currently being transitioned to being themed over specifically to Pixar place hotel, but yeah, it's a very short walk, and then the rooms are much nicer. I want to say you, Robyn, you're gonna know better than me the different sort of, let's say levels, the different sort of categories of your day at Disney World. I know there's like the value resorts and then there's the more moderate ones and then the luxury hotels. I would say that even Pixar place hotel, being the more affordable of the three options, is probably more of a moderate to almost luxury-style hotel, if you're comparing it to the Disney World accommodation and a lot of the off-property hotels, the good neighbor hotels, the ones that are within walking distance from the parks, again, maybe more like a half an hour, depending on where you're going. And some have shuttles or maybe even farther away, they can be a little more on the motel side. But if you're not as picky about your amenities, if you're used to, you know, the Disney World Value resorts, you'll feel like that's what you're used to.


Robyn:

And I kind of tell people it's kind of like Vegas, you know, like a Vegas, you know, three-star hotel is going to be a little sketchy, right, because they can charge a lot more for a motel across the street from Disneyland because of the convenience. So, and I 100% agree with you like the Pixar Pier, I would say would be kind of a moderate and as the Grand Californian Disneyland Hotel would both be Deluxe.


About the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

And, you know, with the Grand Californian, I feel like that's got like a spa. You know, like, it's all about the beauty and the nods to Disney are a lot more subtle. So it has a little like not a stiff formal, but like more of a formal vibe, I think.


Selena:

Oh yeah, Grand Californian is an arts and crafts architectural style. So it is a little bit more of a celebration of California. But it's not something that you're gonna see along the typical Beach Star resorts. It's very natural as far as like the decorative elements. And you're right, the Disney touches a little more subtle, and they're a little more about the woodland creatures. So Chippendale are featured very prominently in the decor, Bambi is featured in the decor, and the arts and crafts style. I actually went and saw another example of that recently, if you guys have ever been to Pasadena, there's a house called the Gamble House. And that's usually one of like the textbook definitions of the arts and crafts architectural styles. Those beams, a lot of stone, a lot of wood, a lot of shell, a lot of like seeing the hand of the artists; there's hand-hammered metals and hand-painted tiles, you see those elements in the Grand Californian as well.


Robyn:

And so, I would say that the Grand Californian, and if you want to take it to like a normal hotel, it'd be more like a Ritz or a Waldorf. It has that high-end feel. It's definitely a luxury hotel. Everything is based off that luxury, but the style is like what Selena said. So that's kind of what you're getting. And the access, the Grand Californian has the closest access to all three parks. It is the closest walking distance to Disneyland. It's the closest, I mean, it's literally just, it's right on the door of California Adventure; you, you step right in there, right from the property. So it's going to have the most convenient. So I think it's one of the easiest if you have to come back and take naps, or if you really like a luxury stay and you don't want to leave the bubble. I feel like that's kind of the best option there.


Selena:

Absolutely. And it's definitely, like you were saying, the luxury style they have. They even have turndown service. You know, after you've shut down the park, after you close it out at the end of the day, you come back and housekeeping has come in, they've, they've dimmed the lights, there are chocolates on your pillow. So it is very much a luxury-style experience. And like you were saying, it is the only hotel on Disneyland property that has a spa, that’s a nice spa that I had not been to yet but I'm going to go to which has a combination of kind of more health and wellness-style spa services, massages, facials and all of that and more salon-style services as well. So it's luxury, and that extends to the dining too. Now, I know how little we will need to go down that rabbit hole because we've done that before with the food. We've already talked about it, guys find the episode where we talked about Disneyland food, but there is a very, very nice dining experience attached to the Grand Californian. You don't need a hotel reservation to eat there, but you do get priority if you are guests to the hotel. That's called the Napa Rose, and it is a high-end, like they want you to wear a jacket if you can, type of experience.


Robyn:

And so, when people are like, ‘I’m a foodie, this is where I want to go,’ or ‘I want to have a luxury experience.’ The Grand Californian and that's pretty much where all the luxury experiences are going to be, with the exclusion of the VIP tour which happens in the parks. But if you're looking for that luxury feel, the pool has very much more, it's a, they do have a slide but the pool does feel more like a classic upscale hotel. I feel like this would be a good time to talk about in comparison.


About the Disneyland Hotel

The Disneyland Hotel is also very Deluxe. But the vibe is very different because it's very classic Disney, very nostalgic Disney.


Selena:

Yes, it feels like this hotel is where Walt would want to stay. That's how I justified to myself, which is partially why I love it so much. It definitely has that sort of late 1950s vibe to it, the way that the main towers of the hotel are situated around the pool. There's a lot of retro nods to historical Disney. The pools are named, you know, the E-ticket pool, the D-ticket pool, the decor and the architecture. Yeah, very much 50s and 60s inspired. And it's still very much a deluxe, like type of experience, but it feels more accessible. Probably because it is the most overtly Disney of the three. 


Robyn:

I mean, monorails by pool like amazing tiki bar, you know, they've got Goofy's kitchen, dining there, you know, tea cup so you can sit in as you're waiting to check in. I mean, it is got an amazing history. If you are a history nerd, and you're staying there look up defunct land, defunct land’s YouTube is awesome but you have, they have a whole episode on the Disneyland Hotel. And there's several other documentaries on this rich history that Disneyland Hotel has. And I think one thing that you'll hear over and over again, is the headboards and how magical the headboards are.


Selena:

Yes, the headboard, okay, so if you've not stayed there, if you've not seen pictures, it is this beautiful dark stained wood headboard that has a relief of the Beauty Castle carved into it. And there's a little switch on the nightstand in between the beds go and push the button on the switch you start to hear a dream is a wish your heart makes. And then the headboard lights up with fireworks above the castle. It is just so darling and charming. And it like makes me so happy every time we stayed there.


Robyn:

They have a concierge lounge at the top where you can see the fireworks if you get the concierge level. Like there's a lot of really amazing benefits. And I feel a little bit more calm. Disneyland Hotel is my favorite of the three, too. I think that you know, Grand Californian is, you can't match the level of luxury. But for Disney, I you know, I feel like I feel more. I feel like it matches what I know. We're kind of Walt people, you know, like, yeah, we're all about the history.


Selena:

And then like I said the theme of Disneyland is just all over the hotel with more of that throwback vibe. So the three primary towers for your room stays there named after Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland. At the entry level of Frontier tower, there is a beautiful concept diorama of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; it's not like a working train but just the level of detail is gorgeous and my kids love seeing it every time that we are happily assigned to frontier tower. The other towers, Adventure and Fantasy tower, have that same kind of nods to their respective lands. Adventure tower, you're probably going to stay there if you get the deluxe rooms with the park views attached to them; otherwise, we're going to probably be in a Fantasy or a Frontier tower. Robyn was mentioning the teacup chairs and tables in the lobby when you enter, so the main lobby is attached to Fantasy tower.


Robyn:

It's just so much fun and there's so much history and it, you know, it is also very, you know, you're right next to the monorail which is the kind of your back entrance for Disneyland, which is one of your closest entrances, and you enter through that in the mornings for both of all of these hotels, you can kind of use these back entrances. So there's the monorail at Disneyland. And then there's the two back entrances now at California Adventure that you have access to that regular park guests. You know, they might be able to use them in the evening or like midday, but in the morning those are exclusively held for hotel guests. And so in the security line you're not dealing with everybody there, everybody going through those sections has early entry so it can make things a lot smoother for you.


About the Pixar Place Hotel

And we're going to talk about the, you know, the early entry is one of the big perks but first we should talk about Pixar Place which is a, it's a wonderful hotel it's slightly, is the furthest away but we're talking like like 500 feet we're talking like.


Selena:

Next door to Disneyland Hotel. It is literally next door, so it's like you're maybe adding another two minutes to your walk. I would say this is, while still probably, you know, a high moderate values style hotel. It is the most affordable of the three and it does have, the vibe reflects that a little bit more. I have not stayed there since it's become the Pixar Place Hotel. I've stayed there when it was the Paradise Pier. And even before that, when it was the Disneyland Pacific Hotel, so it's gone through a few re-themes in the last couple of decades. So hopefully this Pixar one will stick, but it has many of the same amenities as the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian, you know, you mentioning those walkability to the parks that special entry into the California Adventure Park, which is right near the main driveway into the Grand Californian Hotel. You just kind of stick to the south and the entrance will drop you off there, the corndog castle. So it's a great way to hit the line. So you're saying there is a security checkpoint there. I have never seen anyone else in that line in the times that I've used that, it's shocking. I was kind of wondering like, is this? Am I in a backstage part of the park right now? Like what's going on? No one else here. So that is a great perk for sure.


Robyn:

And it's, you know, I would say it's probably the most casual. The Pixar theming is very clean, very crisp, but it feels very fun and easy. It doesn't feel maybe as formal as the Grand Californian. The only negative really, like, that's a big negative compared to it, is there's no character dining at that particular location at the time of this recording at least. It hasn't been announced in the foreseeable future. So if you are looking for someplace where you can go down the stairs and get breakfast with Goofy or Mickey, you know, that hotel doesn't offer that. But it still offers all of the other perks. 


The Perks of Stay "On Property"

Let's start with, we talked about I think, you know, naptime is not something that they list on the Disneyland website. But I think that going back and taking a nap is crucial to having a good day at Disney, especially if you have kids under the age of seven. Or you're like me, and you're now over the age of 35 or 40. And I need a nap or I'm me and my husband are not having fun at 10 o'clock at night. When you’re staying on property it is very easy to go back and get a change of clothes if you get wet, to take a nap, get more diapers. So it as far as convenience, I'll let you talk about anything you want to add there.


Selena: 

Oh yeah, absolutely. So in my experience, staying off property. I mean, I'm a rope drop to end of operating day spiel person, like I want to be there as long as I can, knowing that I will have to you know now with kids go back and take a nap. But I want to maximize my park time. And staying off property tends to mean you've got to bring everything with you. So if you know it's gonna get colder in the evenings, you got to make sure you've got your jackets, have your ponchos if you don't want to get wet because having to go walk back off property to get a change of clothes is going to be a slog, you'd have to plan for sure on renting a locker, I cannot remember the last time I rented a locker in the park, I know the price was going up and up. And it is kind of like luck of the draw if they happen to have lockers available. The hotel room, that's one of the big convenience points for me is a you don't need to bring absolutely everything you need for your day. If you forget something, it's much easier to go back whether it's your jacket for an adult or if it's one of your kiddos, you forgot their favorite lovey or you dropped with their water cups or left it somewhere very easy to go back to your hotel room OnProperty and get what you need before going back into the parks and playing for the rest of the day. I know that Disneyland has strollers that you can rent. I've never rented one of them. Because again, I don't want to be kind of subject to that, well do they still have availability and I love maximizing my time in the park. So I don't want to wait in line to grab a stroller before going in. So being able to take that stroller in and out from the hotels to the parks going through that very, very short line at security either at the California Adventure entrance or even the main entrance into Downtown Disney headed to either the monorail to get into Disneyland or walking through Downtown Disney to go through the main gate of the park itself. That line is much shorter.


Robyn:

The lines are shorter.


Early Entry Access To the Parks

And then I think the biggest thing that is the biggest value and people say ’is it worth it to me or not?’ Especially if you are going, this is a once in a year trip. And you know, maybe there's only $300 difference between staying at a Disneyland Hotel or not, is early entry. And so now there are specific days where you know, some days is California Adventure, some days is Disneyland, but you would get to be in the park half hour before everybody else. This means that no, they don't open the entire park. It's usually Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, a couple of select rides, not everything opens. But it also allows you to be you know, ride a couple of those rides that generally have a longer line before anybody else gets there. And if you did decide you wanted to do something like Rise of the Resistance for rope drop. I don't really recommend it because it doesn't always open on time and it's a long walk. But that gives you the best position to be at first.


Selena:

Same goes for Radiator Springs Racers, those two rides. I know that there's a lot of folks out there who would recommend do those that rope drop. I'm with you. That's a no, they're not always ready to go. In fact, more often than not, they're not going to be ready to go up Park opening. So use that time to do something else.


Robyn:

So that early entry can allow you to ride maybe like five rides that you might normally have taken you two or three hours if you'd come in 10 o'clock. Now you're only going to get value out of that staying at the hotels, if you are a morning person that can get your family out the door by about 7am, because you want to have them out the door through security ready to go right at 7:30. But if you are able to get that full 30 minutes, you can get so much done in that small window of time. And then you can save that time later to take a nap when everybody else is busy steaming in line. And then you're going to be able to get on the most number of rides, and have the most enjoyable day absolutely.


Selena:

100% Agree. The early morning entry has always been a perk for me even before I had kids. I remember when it was called Magic morning. And then when it was called Extra Magic Hour, so it's gone through a few iterations. It really came in handy for my family in this most recent trip, we ended up having to go to Guest Services at each park at the start of our day. Guest Services is open at the parks during this early entry time. And the line is significantly shorter. So if you're someone who's got to get into guest services for your day, that's going to be probably your shortest line of the morning, I was really shocked at how quickly we got through. It's also like you're seeing a really good opportunity to get on some of those bigger rides. My family while I was waiting in line and chat services in Disneyland, they were able to go on Peter Pan and the wait was under 20 minutes, it's a really great opportunity to get on some of those, those rides can also utilize that time to take advantage of a shorter Starbucks line, if that's your thing, the lines for food tend to be a little bit shorter. There are one of the things that's open and specific lands in both parks. But I know that the Starbucks waits, I've seen it be the shortest during that hour.


Robyn:

So that's going to be your biggest thing. But you do have to be early risers we talked about the back entrances.


Package Delivery To Your Room

Also, if let's say you know, you're gonna buy your kids Christmas presents, but you don't want to see them lugging their pencils castle all the way back to you to the hotel with you. You can buy items and have them sent to your hotel room, which especially if you want to buy stuff earlier in the day can be a really big value. Because you don't have to lug that around. You don't have to worry about it getting lost, you don't have to worry about it getting stolen. So the package being able to send packages to your room is a big benefit.


Selena:

Absolutely. And we have done just that recently Robyn where we saw something over at Cars Land and Radiators Springs. Purchased it and had it sent to the room, my son had no idea until Christmas morning, this past holiday season. So yeah, really, really convenient. And you just send stuff back to your room.


Robyn:

That can be helpful if you're gonna do like lightsabers too, because you know, you can have them sent back to your room. You don't have to carry those big, bulky lightsabers or droids all day.


Selena:

A couple more things. I know we want to talk about some off property stuff as well.


Contactless Check In

I want to make sure everybody knows that all three of the Disneyland hotels offer contactless check-in and a digital room key. They call it direct room service for all three of the hotels, you can actually check in within five days of your arrival, you submit your approximate arrival time, it's not a guarantee that your room will be ready before check-in. But the last three times that my family has been able to do this, we were able to get into our rooms bypassing the lobby altogether going straight to our rooms because it was assigned to us ready before that 3pm standard check-in time got a digital room key that's attached to the Disneyland app, which can be really convenient. And for folks who don't really like that particular part, you can still go down and get a physical key.


Robyn:

As somebody who loses keys constantly, I always appreciate a mobile key. So and then they do reserve some some dining in the hotels, reservations that can be harder to get the hold some of those back for hotel guests. Those are the big benefits to staying on property. I think we touched on all the big ones, right? 


Selena:

I think so. 


Robyn: 

We kind of just really sold you on that. But you know, you might say well, why why? Why do I not like to do that. And Selena goes to Disneyland often but I go to Disneyland, probably a dysfunctional level of often. So I because I go so often. And because you know, my day job, I do a lot of traveling, I have a lot of rewards a lot of credit card points, you know, I have hotel status.


Why Robyn Likes to Stay "Off Property"

So the biggest benefit to staying off property is going to be the cost. So you can stay at a hotel that the physical walking distance is almost the same as the Disneyland Hotel for a fraction of the price. Now the rooms aren't going to be as nice you're going to be having to walk across the street, you know, pass on IHOP, those kinds of things. But you know the value and the cost savings is enough that allows us to go back more often.


Also, I'm a Marriott loyalist and so because of that, I like staying at the Marriott Hotels because I get you know special perks and upgrades and it helps me get my Platinum Titanium Ultra Elite status every year but so if you have a loyalty because of work there are every hotel chain is right there. The courtyard with a waterpark is really nice, wonderful stay clean rooms clean facility, the doors open to interior halls, the Fairfield Inn is the closest Marriott, but it opens outside. And I would say it's definitely more of a motel feel. But then I really liked the Marriott by the convention center, if you have studi bougie access to the lounge, their breakfast is my favorite in the area. And but there are several hotels across the street, like the Best Western, which I normally wouldn't stay in at Best Western, because I'm a princess, you know, the they, those, those ones can be pretty nice. And they have a lot of sweet options.


What To Look For in "Off Property Hotels"

So if you have a group, a family of six, some of those off property ones might be much more affordable for you, when I'm looking at the Disneyland or the hotels that are across the street from Disneyland, I really want to look at recent reviews, I want to look at how close is it to the park entrance, the main entrance, not the parking garage, not the you know, you need to be able to look at how far you're actually going to walk. So anything that's on Harbor between Ball and Katella, those are gonna give you the shortest walking distance, you know, as we get, you know, just on the other side of those, they are within walking distance but a little further.


Staying At Hotels Outside of Walking Distance to Disneyland

The one thing that is different is that there's a big difference between staying in the hotels that are within walking distance, and the ones that you would have to drive to or you'd have to take a bus to. Anaheim has a resort busing system called ART, that will bring you back and forth to a lot of the local resorts, they even will take you to Knott's Berry Farm and back. It's great if you have like an ECV and you don't want to have to move that into a car.


There's a lot of really great options. But if you're someplace where you are going to have to drive to Disneyland, you need to think about one, you're going to have to pay for parking probably at your hotel, and at Disneyland. And then there's the drive. So in California, like in Phoenix, something that's 10 miles away is 10 minutes away, pretty consistently. In Los Angeles, something that's a mile away, it could be 30 minutes away. So I find when I stay about three miles away, my drive time is about 10 to 15 minutes. And if I stay closer to 10 miles away, the ride the drive time gets closer to 30 minutes. Now that doesn't sound so bad. But then when you have to park and get on the bus, you know get on the tram, you park your car, you go downstairs you get on the tram, now we're adding about a total of an hour of commute, which means it's much more difficult to go back to take a nap it feels like a much bigger journey. And I ended up not doing it and then we end up having shorter Park days. And then if somebody forgets the sunblock or somebody forgot their jacket, no, now we're buying a jacket instead of where you know we do we really want to go all the way back to get that jacket, you really have to think everything through the farther you will get away from this and the harder it is to change plans where you're like, ‘Okay, well we thought we'd take a nap at two. Well it started ringing. Alright, well, now we need to think about you know, we need to think about LA traffic and all sorts of other things.’ It adds a lot of variables.


So for me, I love staying off property because I can usually find a pretty good deal but I won't usually stay more than three miles away unless there's a really good reason because it adds so much more time. And if you are staying in like three to five mile range, you might want to consider Ubering back and forth to the park instead of driving. So you don't have that extra time and hassle of parking in the parking garages.


Selena:
Features of Staying Off Property

I was just thinking about how you were talking about when you're staying on property. You are on property, it is Disney businesses, Disney licensed businesses when you're off property if you need that convenience of like a CVS or a Walgreens or something else is easier to access those things. There's also more food options if you're not wanting the theme park food and I mean, I don't know why you wouldn't because that's amazing. If you're looking for you know like a McDonald's or a Panera you're gonna find that particularly along Harbor Boulevard. So it's gonna be within walking distance of your hotel and so that that convenience can be an incentive for folks who want to stay off property.


Robyn:

So the biggest thing when you're looking at these off property hotels is you need to make sure you really look at the interior and the exterior for the rooms. Make sure that's going to meet your standards. Make sure you look for any reviews recently for bedbugs. That's just the across anytime you stay at a hotel, look for those. You know, bedbugs happen even in the fanciest resorts. The only time that I've ever had an issue with bedbugs was in a five star all inclusive Western property. So it doesn't necessarily mean that the property is dirty or bedbugs happen we want to make sure that we don't see a lot of people complain about it but making sure you're comfortable with like the way that the you know some people don't feel comfortable having hotels that open to the exterior. They want that interior hallway and you think about whether or not there's free parking or not. Is there free breakfast or not? Don't assume because it's a Fairfield inn, they will have free breakfast because Fairfield Inn is a great example. They don't offer free breakfast there, even though pretty much every other Fairfield Inn in the country does. So and they might be stricter about like checking early policies, things along those lines. So make sure you look at the reviews. The biggest thing that as you're, as you're looking at those reviews and decide is figuring out how much how much will you save, and how far is the walking distance to the park and then trying to decide how much time you're going to be spending in the room does the pool matter? I will tell you that even though we don't usually go to the pool very often, because we're from Phoenix pools are everywhere here, we can swim anytime you want, pretty much any day of the year. So pools aren't as big of a deal for us. But it is nice after you've been walking literally 10 miles to be able to get into a hot tub while the kids play for a little bit and relax those muscles. So then you kind of want to look at some of those things at but there are a lot like she said, there's a lot of other food options easier to get Uber Eats delivered those kinds of things. And you know, have you ever done Instacart or Uber Eats to the Disneyland hotels?


Selena:

Not to the Disneyland hotels, no. But I have seen drop offs at my most recent visit there, they were dropping it off at the lobby.


Robyn:

I just don't know how that would because they can be a little, they're pretty strict about parking, especially at the Grand Californian because people want to park there. And it's really only for hotel guests or people who have dining reservations there. So they're pretty particular. So but I think the biggest benefits to staying off are going to you know, I'm gonna be looking at the cost, I'm going to be looking do I already have hotel points where I can stay for free because I've done those credit card points. And then the thing that I was leading to that I kind of lost track along the way is people ask is it safe to walk to my hotel in that part of California. And I will tell you that especially at the corners, you will see homeless people. But around Park operation from about one to two hours before the park opens till about an hour an hour and a half after, there is a steady stream of people on those streets all the time. I've never really felt unsafe walking even as far as just a little bit past the convention center. So you're gonna be walking with a large group of people, you're almost never going to be alone. And so you know, even as a woman by myself, I do feel safe on those streets. If you want to stay kind of you know, a little bit closer than that does eliminate the most of the homeless that are around, that are usually near the bus stops kind of at the corners. But you know, they they've never bothered me that they're doing the best that they can. And you know, so I've never felt unsafe walking there, it will tell you that walking in the morning. Sounds like a great idea. And then on the way back, we might decide to take an Uber, we might decide to take an art bus back, you know, because the walk back that last five minutes feels like 700 hours.


Selena:

And I've heard friends of mine say that like this, that walk back with littles in particular can be a real slog, particularly if you have rented a stroller and you have to check it back at the main gate as you're leaving the park and you still have to walk with these very tired little ones. The last time I stayed off property, carry my son from main gate to the Fairfield Marriott. And oh boy were my arms for the next day. And that's that's my main takeaway from that trip. That was my son's second trip to Disneyland and that's like the thing that stands out in my mind, just kind of a bummer.


Robyn:

I will say that if you are staying off property and you are not bringing your stroller, I would highly recommend this goes for wheelchairs too: you do not rent at Disneyland, have them brought to your hotel room because carrying them that last mile will kill you. And you know, staying within a mile is going to be walking distance, but just know you might want to have it on the way back; you might decide to take other transportation back. 


Uber Pick Up At Disneyland

Uber pickup at Disneyland from about 9:30 to about 10:30 is ridiculous; your driver will be 700 feet away and it will be 30 minutes sometimes. So if you know if that is where you are going to be picked up, sometimes it's better for you to walk down to another location, patronize that business down further, not across the street. They're very strict at the like McDonald's across the street and stuff about Uber pickups. But walking a little bit further for an Uber pickup, but there are buses that will take you from the resort to those local area hotels if you are too tired to walk. Was that walking across the street, was that the thing that pushed you everywhere like never again?


Selena:

It was that, it was just not a great experience overall, and I don't know if it was just because of that particular weekend, which was the weekend in between, it was an early Thanksgiving, it was like a weekend in between veterans and Thanksgiving. But yeah, that walk back we just had a really weird stay. When we checked in it was almost like it. It was over an hour after check-in time before we got a room.


Robyn:

And that's not abnormal in those area hotels because they know they can get away with it. And there are hotels that are known for really, you know, like, you know, the Candy Cane Inn has a wonderful reputation. Anaheim has a wonderful reputation. But you know, especially some of the hotels that are across the street, they know that you're staying there because it's across the street, not because they have five stars on TripAdvisor. So you kind of have to build in a little bit more allowance. I'm not saying that it's right. But it just kind of is the way that it is.


Selena:
Plan for Time At Security

And we ended up missing our reservation in Downtown Disney because of that. So it was just a series of unfortunate events. But like you were saying earlier, if you plan on more time, if you're staying off property, not just because of the walking distance, but that security coming off of Harbor Boulevard, everyone who's within walking distance is funneling in there. So they're coming in off of Katella, they're coming in off of Harbor, and it can be a really long wait. And then you still have to walk across the esplanade if you're going to Downtown Disney, or you have to walk into the main gate and get your tickets scanned. So if you're looking at planning out your day, taking advantage of a lot of the things you can make reservations for, be mindful of that if you're staying off property. I mean, definitely still do it. But I would plan on being there a half an hour before you actually need to be there to make sure that you don't miss it.


Robyn:

You can have a wonderful trip at Disneyland doing both. So it's just about deciding what, you know, I've had magical, magical trips on property. I've had magical, magical trips thing and an Airbnb when we didn't have a lot of money. Those can be a little bit sketchier but they can be wonderful. But sometimes they're not wonderful. It's really about determining what is most important for your family. So if you determine that, you know, we're not early risers, we don't mind walking. And you know, for us, we can afford to do individual Lightning Lanes for both things and Genie Plus, that's a better value for us than being able to stay closer because our kids are older, there's not a right or wrong answer. It's just listening to kind of what the different points of each one. So off property you might have be able to get free breakfast or you might be able to have free parking at some of the farther away hotels. So there are, there are pros and cons to every option; it's just finding out what works best with what your family needs and what your, what your trip goals are, whether it's rides or shows or you know just trying to relax, which Disneyland's not really a relaxing place. So you probably pick the wrong destination.


Selena:

It can be but it's just, yeah, you just have to know going in, do your homework. But you know, ParkMagic is your homework and know what your priorities are.


Smaller Chains for the Win

And I will say on property, the better experiences that I've had in were the hotels that were not attached to a larger chain. You know, this is when I was in my 20s. And I had an annual pass, but I couldn't afford to stay on property when it was just, you know, me and my then boyfriend at the time. Now my husband, or me and my sister doing like a quick sister trip, I didn't have those points. So I ended up staying at a couple of the more, the independent smaller that are kind of a little bit more hotel style. But because they don't have that brand awareness, in my experience, they've gone a little bit more of that extra mile to provide a little bit of that Disney magic on their property.


Robyn:

There are some hotels that are connected to brands that I do feel like they phone in a little bit, because they are across the street and you know, hotels like the Anaheim, like the Candy Cane Inn. They do have to fight for that brand recognition, and so they take their reputation a little bit more seriously, I think. So I think that that is a good point, and you know, nothing gets talked about more than you know people's experiences at hotels. So there's lots of information and reviews. Just make sure you kind of let me make sure that whatever hotel you pick matches the needs of your family. We hope that this episode has been helpful in letting you pick and like. Know that this is just one component of your trip, so if it's stressing you out too much, you can always look at a travel agent. They can help you book. I think the other benefit to booking on Disney's website, even if you're using a good neighbor hotel, is you can pay off your tickets and your hotel and pay with it, put a deposit down and make payment, though there are lots of options. But anyway, we hope this episode has been helpful and if you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us at hello at parkmagiccom or reach out to us on any of our socials. Thanks and have a great day.


Thanks for listening to this episode of the ParkMagic podcast. For more tips and planning tools designed to help simplify your Disneyland adventure, visit ParkMagic.com. If you enjoyed today's episode and want to hear more tips, be sure to subscribe to the ParkMagic podcast. And don't forget to leave us a review. Your feedback helps us spread the magic even further. Leaving a review could also help you. Each month, we will be selecting one reviewer to win a one-hour planning session with Robyn. Winners will be announced at the end of the first episode of every month. Thanks for tuning in and remember that we are here to help you have a less stressful and more magical trip to Disneyland.

 

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