The Disneyland Hotel Experience

This will be a very photo-heavy post, so get ready folks.

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Here we go!

Neither one of us had ever been to Disneyland before. This was an entirely new experience for us, and therefore it was a no-brainer for us to stay on property. We both preferred the theming of the Disneyland Hotel because it evokes classic Disney in the best possible way. We were not disappointed in this whatsoever when we got there. I suppose the closest hotel at WDW I can compare it to would be the Contemporary, but the service didn’t match up in any way to what we always receive at the Contemporary (more on that later). The theming, though, felt at least somewhat familiar. It’s both modern and classic at the same time, with tons of Disney everywhere you look, and plenty of reminders of the resort’s history as well.

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Some ticket booklets from way-back-when hanging in the E-Ticket Club concierge lounge, for example.

Now for those of you who, like us on this trip, are only familiar with WDW as your Disney experience, I will go ahead and let you know that Disneyland is very, very different from moment one. First and foremost, you’re right in the middle. of. downtown. Anaheim. I cannot stress this enough. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by a regular city, not by acres and acres of Disney-owned land as far as the eye can see. It was disorienting for us at first, but we soon got used to it, although during the fireworks at night it felt strange even by our last night there. It was kind of neat, though. The ease with which you can leave property is insane compared to WDW, where it’s an ordeal and a half to get anywhere that isn’t Disneyfied. You can go do other things and it doesn’t necessarily feel like you’re missing out on precious Disney time. We didn’t leave, of course, but I suppose you could if you wanted to.

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Why leave when you have everything you need right here?

I won’t go into too much detail about Disneyland itself, namely the parks or Downtown Disney, because you can find reviews of that stuff all over the internet with zero effort. Suffice it to say: Disneyland – A+, California Adventure – B-, Downtown Disney – C.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what we like to talk about most: hotel rooms and club lounges.

So here’s the deal. We often see people on Disney boards and such complaining like mad about how difficult it is to book everything at WDW. It’s cumbersome, the website is wonky, etc etc etc. Well let me go ahead and tell you right now: booking at Disneyland is SO MUCH WORSE IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY Y’ALL.

You think the WDW website is full of bugs? Disneyland’s site has got so many bugs the walls look like they’re moving. Rooms disappear and reappear before you can book them. You can get all the way to check out, put in your credit card info, and POOF!, no room for you. It’s gone, off into the ether, never to be seen again. You can call, but the availability they’ve got over the phone looks legit nothing like what you see on the website at the exact same time you’re talking to the agent. Wanting to book a premium view room at Paradise Pier? You’re looking right at it online. It’s right there. You can click on it. The agent says nothing’s available on property at all except 1 suite at the Grand Californian at rack rate. You see no such suite online, but the whole damn hotel seems to have availability if you just reload a few more times. Yikes. Yikes x 1000.

Have patience and plenty of time on your hands to book at Disneyland. It’s the only way.

Also, if you’re wanting a Concierge room (this is what they typically refer to Club Level as at Disneyland resorts, FYI), you’re going to have to be even more persistent, or luck up online. Book far in advance, check the website a lot, and hope that Concierge room stays in your cart long enough for you to check out completely and get a confirmation email. Persistence, people.

They still give you a gold Key to the World card at Disneyland hotels, though, so maybe that makes it worth all that work?

Anyway, here’s a basic overview of the Disneyland Hotel:

  • The Disneyland Hotel is made up of 3 different buildings, called “Towers”: Frontier, Adventure, and Fantasy. Each of them are (obviously) themed in their lobbies based on the name of their building. There’s some pretty amazing stuff in each lobby, so check them all out while you’re there even if you aren’t actually staying at the hotel. It’s worth your time.
  • Suites are located in every building. Balconies only exist on the very top floor of the Frontier building, and that floor is made up almost entirely of suites.
  • Suites do not automatically include Concierge Level access in their price.  This is a big difference from WDW, where all suites in the Deluxe resorts include Club Level. You can add access for an additional fee, although we sadly did not learn what that fee is per night.
  • The Concierge lounge is located on the top floor of the Adventure Tower. It has a nice view of the fireworks from Disneyland each evening, but come early and snag a seat near the windows. There’s no balcony off the lounge, sadly, so much like the King Kamehameha Club lounge at the Polynesian Village at WDW, you’ll be watching the fireworks from behind glass, and there is a noticeable glare in photos.
  • All standard Concierge level rooms are in the Adventure Tower. You can book a Standard view, which is of the parking lot facing away from Disneyland, the Deluxe and Premium views, which are of the monorail pool (the difference is how high of a floor you get, in Deluxe vs. Premium), and the Premium Downtown Disney view, which is of course of Downtown Disney and the fireworks.
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The welcome letter you get when you check in and are staying Concierge.

As you can see from the letter above, the meal times and basic services offered to Concierge level guests are basically similar to those you’ll get staying Club Level at WDW. There are, however, a few differences that we learned about during our trip.

The cast member staff in the lounge is very different from the staff in CL lounges in WDW resorts. At Disneyland, they are clearly separated from one another based on duty. The Concierges sit at a desk right when you walk inside the lounge, and are there strictly to do Concierge-type things, such as get dining reservations or look up stuff for you. We sat in the lounge a lot throughout our stay, observing how things run, and I can honestly say I don’t think I ever saw any of the Concierges actually leave the desk. Then there’s the food service staff, who are strictly there to do food and beverage, clean up the lounge area, and get you drinks or whatever else you need from the kitchen. They do the big work and, at least while we were there, were the true stars of the Concierge lounge. We didn’t find the actual Concierges to be too helpful or friendly, truth be told. But the food service staff? Top notch. Fantastic cast members all around. At WDW, most of the Club Level staff tends to rotate between jobs, some manning the desk and others taking care of food and drink. While there are a few cast members who are solely there to do food service, most of them can do everything, and they do. We weren’t huge fans of the way they do things at Disneyland in this regard.

We also weren’t super impressed with the Disneyland Hotel resort cast members overall, with the exception of a few notable amazing folks who made our trip even more memorable than it already was. The resort staff was a huge contrast to the cast members in the parks, who were truly fantastic. The hype you hear about how much different and better the cast members are at Disneyland is true, although sadly not in the resorts. WDW resort cast has Disneyland beat tenfold.

Food in the Concierge lounge at the Disneyland Hotel was different than most anything we’ve had at WDW. It was great, although I can’t say it was necessarily better than some of the better CL lounges at WDW (namely the Contemporary and Boardwalk Inn!). The meal times and food selection was about the same as at WDW, so I won’t go too into detail about all that. I will, however, note the most important, crucial, mind-blowing thing that Disneyland Hotel has over all the WDW lounges: MICKEY WAFFLES.

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There for the taking, friends! Look at them! Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

I took photos during each meal service. Here’s a sampling:

The desserts were truly outstanding, and you could tell the pastry team really put a lot of thought into what they created each night. There is a Nespresso pod machine, like at the WDW lounges, and a similar coffee and tea setup. Snacks included the fresh kettle chips you see at WDW, but also a few different types of salsa alongside tortilla chips since this is California. I was a fan of this. There were granola bars, Uncrustables, and a few other packaged snacks available throughout the day to grab and take with you. Beer selection wasn’t nearly as good or creative as at WDW lounges, and only included basic domestics like Budweiser and Bud Light along with Heineken. Wine selection, however, was very good, including several reds and whites. They also had a sparkling California wine that was excellent, and the food service cast member who served it to us knew a lot about all the wines they served. Unlike at WDW, there were no cordials served in the evening alongside desserts. They made mimosas by request in the mornings, too, just like at WDW. We took advantage of a number of those.

Throughout the day and evening the lounge could get quite busy. Luckily it’s a big space with a decent amount of seating, so there’s not too much worry over not being able to find somewhere to sit if you want to stay.

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Tinkerbell on the tables.

Just like at WDW, you have access to the lounge even after you check out of your room, so if you need to do like we did and hang out a while before catching a ride to the airport, you can feel free.

Now, onto the rooms!

We had an amazing corner room on the top floor of the Frontier Tower, which meant that we had not one, but two of the coveted balconies that are so scarce at this hotel. It technically connected via a connecting door to the suite beside it, but we didn’t hear too much noise from the family next to us. The doors were slightly less soundproof than at the Contemporary, but far better soundproofed than those at the Polynesian Village.

The rooms at the Disneyland Hotel are all decorated the same no matter which Tower you stay in, so I won’t go too into detail about them. Suffice it to say that they’re very beautiful and well-maintained, housekeeping was top notch, and turndown service was prompt every night (unlike at some WDW Club Levels, where it can be hit or miss). Here are some photos:

I included photos from our balconies so you can get an idea what the different views looked like. One was of “cars land,” as we called it, also known as the parking lot. The other was a dead-on view of Disneyland and California Adventure, the Grand Californian, and Paradise Pier. We could see parts of World of Color each night, as well as a perfect Disneyland fireworks view.

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Doesn’t get much better than that, even with the cranes chilling off to the side.

We found the rooms to be exactly on par with what we expect from a Deluxe resort room at WDW.

So, would we stay there again? Yes and no.

We’ll definitely be going back to Disneyland as soon as we can. It’s such a unique experience. We fell in love with the park itself, and it’s a must for any Disney fan. When we go back, however, we’ll likely choose another resort, namely the Grand Californian. We weren’t impressed overall with the cast members at the Disneyland Hotel (again, with some very notable exceptions), and we’d like to give the Grand Californian a chance to change our minds about the staff at the Disneyland resorts. We wouldn’t trade our time at the Disneyland Hotel, though. We’d recommend it to others. It was an experience we’d always wanted to have, and we can see ourselves eventually returning sometime in the future. If we can once again decipher the enigma that is booking a Disneyland resort room, that is..

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