Well hello on this FREEZING cold day in Montreal. We just got back from Mexico and I can tell you I much rather be on the beach right now.
Today I wanted to cover my planning adventures for Disneyland Resort in California. As Canadians (especially on the east coast) we tend to head down to Florida to Disney World. I understand why that’s attractive… it’s a short flight and the same time zone, however the sheer size of Disney World can be very overwhelming. There is so much planning and it’s easy to get lost. Don’t get me wrong, Disney World is a VERY special place. I’ve been there 3 times and I LOVE IT. However I’m waiting just a wee bit longer before my guys (both under 5) head down there.
Back to Disneyland Resort. We have a family event in California this year, and I figured let’s look at Disneyland to see what options are available and is it even manageable? Can I DIY this trip? Let’s see…
Basics about Disneyland Resort
The Disneyland Resort offers 2 world-class theme parks—Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park—each with its own unique attractions, shows and restaurants. There are 3 official Disney Hotels attached to the park (more on that later). And the park is located in Anaheim, California which is a 45 min drive from LAX (Los Angeles) airport. What I love the most about the two parks are they are directly in front of each other. No need to monorails or transfers to get from one park to the next. You walk left or right and you can choose your park for the day.
Disneyland Park, originally Disneyland, is the first of two theme parks built at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, opened on July 17, 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built to completion under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. So as we know, it’s a special place. Classic attractions include: Dumbo Flying Elephant, Goofy’s Playhouse, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, Peter’s Pan Flight, Buzz Lightyears’s Astro Blasters, Space Mountain, and many more. There is obviously the meeting of the characters, parades and everything else you’d expect to have from the classic Disney experience.
Disney California Adventure Park, commonly referred to as Disney California Adventure, California Adventure, or DCA, has 8 exciting lands were Disney and Pixar characters comes to life. There is a Cars land at this park (which will be biggest attraction for my guys I’m sure), a Pixar Pier which includes the iconic ferris wheel and an amazing rollercoaster with so much more.
Pricing for Disneyland California Parks
So this is the best part. Well one of the best parts at least! I found Disneyland to be VERY affordable, especially for Canadians. Currently there is a Canadian Residents offer which allows you to visit the park for an amazing price. For a 3 day ticker (1-Park per day) pass, it works out to $69USD per day. See the chart below, but I did the math, and if you buy 2 days (which you will need to because you want to visit both parks, right), it’s actually more expensive than buying the 3-day Canadian Residents offer. I know, right?!?! The best!
Where to Stay at Disneyland
This is where I think Disneyland shines! So Disneyland Resort has 3 hotels onsite. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. There are perks to staying at these hotels like private entrances (in some cases) extra magic hours, and of course, being in the Disney bubble throughout your stay. However the prices will be a bit more expensive for these hotels. You’re paying for the magic of Disney which is important to some, but not for everyone.
At Disney World in Florida it makes the most sense to stay at the park hotels based on the shier size of Disney World. Being able to head back to the hotel to freshen up, or for an afternoon nap is key. (especially with toddlers or preschoolers). Shlepping back and forth 20 min in a car is not my idea of time well spent.
The amazing thing about Disneyland is that there are so many hotels right next to the park (and within 5 – 10 minutes walking distance to the gates). In some cases, the hotels outside of Disney are actually much closer than the hotels in the park. There are so many off resort options too. The park has been around for a while and the motel/hotel scene was built along side the park. Like Disney World, Disneyland offers a great list of Good Neighbour Hotels. You defiantly have a lot of hotel options.
There are a lot of hotels to choose from in Anaheim, I’ve broken down my top pick based on value, hotel features, amenities, room type, and distance to the Disneyland gates.
Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground is my top pick for a variety of reasons. First off they The Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel is a six-time winner of TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Hotels for Families in the United States! No other family hotel near Disneyland offers this level of service, amenities, location and value..
Their rooms are spacious enough for families of 5 as well as free WiFi Access, free parking, free in-room safe and premium Keurig coffee makers. (all these things are not typical for hotels right next store to the parks). The rooms fit families of all sizes and budgets. From rooms with 2 queen beds, to rooms with a bunk bed and even suites and family style rooms…. you will find the exact room to meet your families needs.
The hotel is about a 8 min walk to the front gates of Disneyland – so very manageable and convenient. Some of the rooms even offer views of the park, so at night you can watch the fireworks!
What I’m really excited about at this hotel is the Castaway Cove waterpark onsite. The watery pirate playground featuring slides, water cannons and a pirate ship with a splash! Little swashbucklers will love “Speedy’s Sprayground” featuring Speedy, the turtle, splash fountains, and a toddler pool with beach-style entry. Amazing right? My boys will love this! For us it’s important to be close to Disneyland, but also have great activities at the hotel itself. So definitely a top choice.
Bottom Line for Hotels at Disneyland
I love the fact that everything is so close to Disneyland and you can easily go back and forth to your hotel. If you’re looking for value hotels you will need to go a bit further from the gates. There are city busses that run often making things easier. I’m all for parking a car and forgetting it – which i know can be tricky at Disney World (and don’t get me started on the traffic at Disney World!)
No Car Rental – It’s all about the Shuttle from LAX
Something that really hurts the budget is adding a car rental to the mix. The best shuttle I found was the Disneyland Express Shuttle which drops you off at most of the hotels in the Disneyland Area. You can schedule your ride in advance or pay at the bus (with a credit card) if there is room available. The shuttle leaves every hour or so which is perfect for getting to and from the Anaheim area. It’s $48USD Roundtrip per adult and $14USD for children between 3-11
As you can see, traveling to Disneyland can be much easier to plan and affordable!
What are your thoughts? Did I sway you from Disney World to Disneyland? Have you been to Disneyland, what are your tips?