Hotels are plentiful in the vicinity of Disneyland, and most are designed with families in mind.
While on vacation in Anaheim, you can’t beat staying at a Disney hotel for convenience as far as the parks and amenities for families with children of all ages. All three area Disney lodges offer character dining onsite, intricately themed swimming pools, free Disney Channel and ESPN and kid-centric décor and ambiance—and all come at a hefty price. But this hefty price tag also buys unparalleled service and attention to detail: Would your child like a wake-up call from Mickey himself? Balloons to celebrate a birthday? A special stuffed animal awaiting his or her arrival? Disney’s cheerful staff is happy to arrange these extras and more for your little ones—which may add more magic to your stay.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa (1600 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim; tel. 714-956-6425) is the poshest of the Disney properties, and is located smack dab in the middle of Downtown Disney, just a few minutes’ walk from the entrance to either Disneyland or California Adventure. The cavernous lobby is built to resemble a historic park lodge (like the Ahwahnee in Yosemite), with soaring timbers, a towering stone fireplace and elegant Arts and Crafts furniture and accessories. Generously sized guestrooms are decorated with rich woods, earth-toned fabrics and luxuriously appointed bathrooms. My 12-year-old particularly loves this hotel because many rooms come with bunk beds—which adds extra space to bring along a cousin or friend. In addition, this property has a private entrance to California Adventure reserved just for guests, which means no waiting in line in the mornings! Bunk bed rooms start at $345.
Disneyland Hotel (1150 Magic Way, Anaheim; tel. 714-956-6425) remains my favorite accommodation in Anaheim, thanks to its amazing kid-friendly extras. These include: a large Neverland-themed pool with a pirate ship in the middle and a water slide that winds through the lush landscape, two smaller pools, an oversized koi pond with roaring waterfalls (almost as enchanting to my daughter when she was a toddler as Disneyland itself) and an extensive playground that’s perfect for very young children. Guestrooms are adorned with Tinker Bell wallpaper that glows in the dark, framed cartoon stills and Mickey icons hidden in the drapes and bed coverings. Secure a room on a higher floor facing Downtown Disney and you can watch the fireworks from your window. Best of all, Downtown Disney and the entrances to both Disneyland and California Adventure are no more than a five-minute walk away. Standard rooms start at $250.
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (1717 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim; tel. 714-956-6425) is the least expensive of the three Disney properties, and is therefore the farthest walk from Disneyland. This relatively new high-rise is surrounded by tall palm trees and overlooks the California Adventure park, offering premium views from the higher floors. Guestroom décor is breezy and fresh, evoking the nostalgia of California beachside hotels of the ‘40s and ‘50s. The smallish rooftop pool boasts a twisting tube slide that is sure to please kids 10 and younger. Expect fewer luxuries and less elaborate Disney branding at this resort than you’ll find at the two more expensive Disney properties. Standard rooms (with either a king-size bed or two queens) start at $230.
Although neighboring hotels aren’t as readily convenient to the parks and Downtown Disney, many still offer family-pleasing amenities—generally at much lower rates than the Disney properties. A handful of these accommodations are still within easy walking distance; or for $3 per person, per day, you can purchase a hotel shuttle pass (operated by the city of Anaheim) that will take you from your hotel to the parks’ entrances and back.
Hilton Anaheim (777 Convention Way, Anaheim; tel. 714-750-4321), an expansive hotel complex next door to the Anaheim Convention Center and one (long) block from Disneyland, offers comfort and style for families traveling with older children. This premium chain boasts a quiet, relaxing atmosphere, four restaurants (including a good sushi bar and a Starbucks) and an outdoor pool with a spacious sundeck, a sure hit with teenagers. The hotel also includes a well-equipped fitness club, with basketball court, indoor pool and sauna, as well as a bevy of yoga and Pilates classes for adults. Spacious guestrooms are decorated in sunny colors, and large windows offer panoramic views (ensure a park view for a few dollars more). Executive-level rooms on the 14th floor include breakfast, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the evenings. Standard guest rooms start at $109.
Portofino Inn and Suites (1831 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim; tel. 714-782-7600) is another neighboring hotel within a few blocks of the parks. This cheerful smaller property with a Mediterranean ambiance is ideal for families traveling with young children. It features “kid suites” that can accommodate up to six people in two separate bedrooms (divided by glass doors, so parents can keep an eye on the youngsters). The kids’ portion of the suite includes bunk beds, a junior-sized activity table and chairs, a sofa sleeper and its own TV. Décor is vibrant and not too fussy. The outdoor pool lacks the pizzazz of the pools you’ll find on Disney properties, but it is adequate and certainly much less crowded. Kid suites start at $109.
Themes: Family Travel
The Disneyland Grand Californian is a fabulous place to stay with your family! You're right in the heart of the the Disney magic!