Disneyland Resort Vs. Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels

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You’re going to Disneyland! But where are you going to stay? Choices vary greatly between on-site Disneyland Resort properties or Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels. The Disneyland Resort is located in the middle of the city of Anaheim and surrounded with accommodations. Unlike Walt Disney World, where the resort is spread out by miles and miles, Disneyland is compact and very walk-able. This means you have tons of choices when it comes to choosing a hotel in the Disneyland area.

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Disneyland Resort or Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels?

What’s an Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotel? These are area hotels in a variety of price points including moderate, deluxe and suites that offer quality accommodations. Staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotel would be considered “on-site”. Choosing any other Anaheim area hotel, would be “off-site”. With so many hotels in close proximity, you can stay “off-site” and still be able to walk to the front gate within ten minutes! This means you can budget on a hotel stay and not compromise quick access to the parks.

Howard Johnson hotel room

What are the Disneyland Resort Hotels?

There are three Disneyland Resort hotels – Disney’s Paradise Pier, The Disneyland Hotel and Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Why choose a hotel on-site? For one, you’ll be immersed in all things Disney from the moment you step onto the property. Some of the restaurants are Disney themed. Little details like the bedding, carpet and pictures on the walls may be Disney themed. If you choose a park view room, you overlook the park! Also the service by cast members is excellent. You’ll absolutely be immersed in the “Disney bubble” at a Resort hotel. 

View of Grizzly River Run from inside hotel room
Park view room from Disney’s Grand Californian

I have stayed at all three Disneyland Resort hotels and each one has their own charm. The Disneyland Hotel (my personal favorite) has some wonderful memorabilia and historical photographs. Are you celebrating a special event? Mention it at check in and you’ll be gifted special buttons. You might even receive a complimentary upgrade. I’m going to discuss below what to expect, location, pricing, pools and dining at each hotel. There will be comparisons to the Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels to help you decide which accommodations work best for your trip.  

Historical photos at the Disneyland Hotel
Classic memorabilia on display at the Disneyland Hotel

Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels

Disney has an online list of Good Neighbor Hotels they recommend. I have stayed at 15+ of these hotels over the years. Some offered good experiences (some not so good!). The Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels do change frequently. Keep in mind that I may mention a hotel by name that is no longer on the “Good Neighbor” list. Keep reading for the breakdown on choosing between a Disneyland Resort Hotel versus an Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotel.

I recommend Get Away Today when booking Disneyland resort packages and Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels. This trusted travel partner offers discounted multi-day Disneyland tickets and many hotels offer free nights. Guests who book through Get Away Today will often receive additional perks like free parking or complimentary meals. See each hotel listing link in the post below for special offers. Use code REWRITTEN when purchasing though the Get Away Today link to save an extra $10 off a vacation package 2+ days.

Hotel Rooms – What to Expect

The variance between hotels in the Anaheim area is wide. Some hotels have interior hallways while other hotel room doors open to the parking lot. Certain hotels offer significantly larger rooms than others. Noise level can also vary. I’ll discuss the difference between the Disneyland Resort rooms and some of the Anaheim Good Neighbor hotel rooms. 

Scale model of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland Hotel Frontier Tower

What to Expect at a Disneyland Resort Hotel Room: 

Disney Resort hotels each have a specific theme based on the resort. The Paradise Pier has a California beach-theme. The Disneyland Hotel is classic and modern. And the Grand Californian is in an elegant Craftsman-style. The theme is carried from the lobby into the hotel rooms. There will be special Disney touches throughout the rooms. Some Disney touches are obvious, the Sleeping Beauty Castle musical headboard at the Disneyland Hotel. Others, like the mural of Chip n’ Dale in the bedrooms at Disney’s Grand Californian are more subtle.

  • Disney touches and artwork at the Disneyland Hotel

All Disneyland Resort hotel rooms will have an interior hallway with guest room doors inside. Rooms are very clean and well-maintained. Toiletries are upscale H20 products. There’s usually a seating area, desk and chair, mini-fridge, and coffee maker. A baby pack n’ play can be requested. The size of a standard hotel room is average. Suites are also available. The pricing of Disneyland Resort hotels is at a premium.

  • Standard room at Grand Californian

What to Expect at an Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotel:

Good Neighbor Hotels are offered in a range of prices, from “motels” to suites so there is something for every budget. You aren’t going to see much Disney theming in the bedrooms. There are some rooms that have Disney art on the walls. Some area hotels do have special Disney rooms at an extra cost. In general the hotel rooms will look fairly standard. Some hotel rooms have unique theming (like the Anaheim Majestic Gardens Hotel castle rooms). The Anaheim Majestic Gardens also offers the largest standard rooms in Anaheim as well as a free shuttle to the parks.

Anaheim Majestic Gardens hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the parks
Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.
Castle-themed rooms are standard at Anaheim Majestic Gardens

Some guest rooms will have exterior doors to the outside and not interior hallways. Unfortunately this means that sometimes the carpets take a beating and are often dirty. Many of the area hotels have removed carpet and replaced with wood flooring, which is a plus. But you might want to pack slippers.

Interior doors and hallways at Disneyland Hotel

Other Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels are more upscale, like the Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort. No Disney theming here but you’ll receive excellent customer service. Rooms are large and the extensive complimentary breakfast are great, without busting the budget.

Cost Differences

One large discrepancy you’ll see between the Disneyland Resort and Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels is the price. Depending on the season, you’re going to pay around $300-500 per night (or more) for an on-site Disneyland resort hotel room. Those costs are for a regular standard room. Sign up for a Disney account and they might send a discount coupon code.

Rooms at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels also vary in cost, starting from around $125. Seasonal and holidays aside, you’ll find the best pricing mid-week. The variety of room types available is great and families can choose from very basic standard rooms up to suites in the area. Included amenities can also be a value in these off-site hotels.

Anaheim Marriott

Location of Disneyland Resort Hotels

  • The closest of the Disneyland Resort hotels to the parks is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. In fact, it’s attached to Disney California Adventure park and has a side entrance to the Downtown Disney shopping district. Walking distance is literally minutes from lobby to the parks.
  • Next is the Disneyland Hotel, located at the far end of the Downtown Disney District. It’s about a 5 minute walk to the Monorail station and a 10 minute walk to the park front gates.
  • Just a bit farther away is Disney’s Paradise Pier pier, about five minutes farther walk from the Disneyland Hotel. 
Park view from Paradise Pier hotel room

Location of Anaheim Good-Neighbor Hotels

The Disneyland website will lead you to believe that if you stay on-site, you are closer to the parks. The truth is that you will be close. But there are Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels that are actually closer to the park entrance gates. Many of the off-site hotels are literally right across the street with a 5 to 10 minute walk from the front gates.

Some of the nearby hotels are close enough to watch fireworks. During our recent stay at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort, we viewed the Disneyland fireworks show above the Matterhorn from the balcony outside of our room. 

Balcony at Fairfield Inn where fireworks can be seen

Before you book any off-site hotel that boasts, “We’re RIGHT across the street!”, definitely look at an area hotel map. Yes, some of the Good Neighbor hotels might really be just across the street from the resort. However they aren’t across the street from the ENTRANCE GATE. This means you’ll still be walking a long distance to get to the entrance. 

Castle themed room with bunk beds at Anaheim Majestic Gardens hotel.

Which Location is Best?

Walking back to the hotel can be preferable for families with children in a stroller. You’ll be able to push your kid back to the room without having to fold up the stroller to board a bus or tram. If you plan on walking to the park from your hotel, I would recommend choosing hotels on Harbor Blvd. Walking is convenient for those who want to skip the bus transportation, hotel shuttle or ART bus. However, walking a long distance back to the hotel after you’ve been on your feet in the parks all day is something to consider. 

View from hotel across the street from park entrance

Another option is staying at a hotel farther away and driving to the parks. Yes, you may find cheaper rates outside of Anaheim but you’ll also be paying to park your car in a Disneyland lot each day you drive to the parks. If you’re touring other locations in the Los Angeles area (like Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, Medieval Times or Universal Studios Hollywood), consider a stay outside of Anaheim. The Radisson Suites Buena Park is one of our go-to hotels near Knott’s Berry Farm. For a lower cost, we’re close to the attractions and still only a 15 minute drive from Disneyland.

Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels on Harbor Blvd.

  • If you’re looking for the closest hotels, the Tropicana Inn and Suites is literally across the street from the entrance. This no-frills hotel offers families the ability to quickly walk back to the hotel room for swimming or rest.
  • Another budget-friendly location, the Best Western PLUS Park Place Inn is another hotel right across the street. Mini suites offer enough room for 5 and complimentary continental breakfast.
  • Castle Inn and Suites is a basic value hotel with a great location within a block of the entrance gates.
  • Travel farther south on Harbor Blvd and you’ll find one of my favorites, the Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort. Nicely appointed and a hearty complimentary breakfast.
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim Maingate is another nice location for families on a budget. Choose a one-bedroom suite and there’s a full kitchen for meal prep. There’s also a weekday social hour with drinks and snacks.
  • There are several hotels that are located slightly off Harbor Blvd. The extra walk may be worth it based on the higher qualities and amenities. SunCoast Park Hotel Anaheim (formerly the Country Inn & Suites) offers more upscale rooms and a hearty complimentary breakfast buffet.

 

Clarion Hotel

Free Transportation Trick for Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels

There’s a no-cost transportation option that works perfectly for the hotels on South Harbor Blvd. I’ve personally used this trick when staying at the Clarion Hotel and Hyatt Place.

The Disney Toy Story Parking lot is located on S. Harbor Blvd and anyone can hop a ride on this complimentary transportation. There is a cost to park in the lot but free to ride if you walk in. Simply enter the lot and you’ll be able to catch a ride straight to the security entrance of the Disneyland Resort. You don’t even need a park ticket, so you can get a ride just to spend time at the Downtown Disney District as well.

Even off-site guests can use the bus transportation to the parks.

Two Shortcuts into the Disneyland Parks

Both of these “shortcuts” into the parks will require a valid park ticket.

Downtown Disney Monorail Station shortcut to Disneyland

The Monorail station is located near the Disneyland Hotel resort entrance. You’ll bypass the front entrance gates and be deposited near Tomorrowland. Note that the Monorail station can get really busy, especially in the mornings. You might be waiting there for 10-20 minutes to catch a ride. A few things to note – You will have to fold up your stroller to get aboard. Monorail does not operate during fireworks shows or on days with extreme heat. You don’t need to be resort guest to take the Monorail, but you do need a valid park ticket.

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel shortcut to Disney California Adventure park

At the Grand Californian, there is a private entrance that will allow admission into Disney’s California Adventure park. In the morning hours and during Extra Magic Hour, you will be required to show your valid Grand Californian room key to use this entrance. You will also need a valid park admission ticket. After morning, anyone with a park ticket can pass through this side entrance. This is a convenient way to exit the park and dine at the hotel (including Storyteller’s Cafe). 

Disneyland Resort Amenities

There are some compelling reasons to stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel. For families staying at the Grand Californian, the private entrance into Disney California Adventure park is an excellent perk.

A limited number of preferred reservations are set aside just for Resort hotel guests. This means that even if you don’t have a reservation for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or dining reservations for Blue Bayou, you may still be able to get one through hotel concierge. Hotel guests during the fall season were even able to score sold-out tickets to that night’s Oogie Boogie Bash, just by making the request at the hotel. 

Grand Californian lobby

Additional Disneyland Resort perks:

  • Morning wake-up call from a favorite Disney character.
  • Extra Magic Hour is one of the best ways to make the most of your first two hours at Disneyland.
  • Package Express will allow you to purchase souvenirs in the park and have them delivered complimentary to your resort hotel.
  • Evening entertainment including Magical Night at the Movies, when popular films are shown outside on the resort hotel lawn.
  • Those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience can book a Signature Suite. These incredible rooms are on of the best Disneyland vacation splurges!
  • Fireworks viewing locations. Ask at the front desk for details on where guests can go to see fireworks accompanied by music at the hotel.
  • Character greetings in the lobby and around the resort.

Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotel Amenities

While you might be sacrificing “Disney magic” by staying off-site, the lure of lower prices may be well worth it! In addition to lower overall room rates, many Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels also offer fantastic family extras. Complimentary breakfast is a HUGE money saver and not to be overlooked.

Some locations are more basic with cereal, make-your-own waffles and fresh fruit to go. Other locations offer more extensive meals. The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Anaheim Resort offers a complimentary hot breakfast and 24 hour fitness center, as well as large room options. 

Breakfast buffet options at Hyatt Place

Large families looking to save and maximize on their accommodations will love the Embassy Suites Anaheim South. Breakfast omelets are cooked to order and there’s a variety of other hot breakfast items. Return in the evening for a complimentary “cocktail reception”. Drinks and a variety of snacks are served each evening. The two-room suites allow additional privacy and room to spread out.

Swimming Pools

Most of the Anaheim Good Neighbor hotel pools are just standard pools, nothing more. However there are several standouts. If you plan on using the pool on your vacation, consider paying a little more to stay at a site that has great water features!

Pool at Grand Californian

Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotel Pools

  • Across from the park entrance is the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance and Waterpark Resort. Their awesome Surfside Waterpark includes a pool, kiddie splash pad and 6 water slides.
  • The Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground is a fun place to stay and play. The newly remodeled retro-themed rooms are excellent. And the awesome pirate pool area, Castaway Cove, is a great spot to cool off in the afternoon.
  • Nothing compares to the Great Wolf Lodge when it comes to water play and entertainment. This combination hotel and indoor water park is an ideal choice when looking for things to do outside of the Disneyland parks.

 

  • Disney Grand Californian Hotel poolside menu

Disneyland Resort Hotel Pools

Each of the Disneyland Resort hotels pools are amazing with excellent amenities. I highly recommend booking an extra day just to enjoy the pools! Each hotel has a water slide, hot tub, fresh towels, swim diapers for babies and life-vests for toddlers. There are lots of lounging areas and pool-side dining & drink service.

Rooftop pool at Disney’s Paradise Pier hotel
  • Paradise Pier Hotel – Beach themed rooftop pool area with California Streamin’ water slide.
  • Disneyland Hotel – Retro and roomy, with multiple swimming pools and Monorail-themed water slides.
  • Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Rustic and woodsy California themed, with a redwood tree water slide and luxurious poolside dining.
Monorail slides and pools at the Disneyland Hotel

Dining and Food Options

Most of the Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels have restaurants within walking distance. Some have cafes and coffee shops in their lobbies. We stayed at the Anaheim Hilton a few years ago and while the hotel was lovely, there weren’t any kid-friendly restaurants (either in the hotel or within walking distance). So we had a pizza delivered! Prices are going to be reasonable at off-site restaurants and you’ll have a lot more choices when you stray from the resorts. 

The Anaheim Hotel is a moderately priced location with a Pizza Press restaurant for quick family meals. Other restaurants within walking distance on Harbor Blvd. include Denny’s, IHOP, Mimi’s Cafe, McDonald’s, and Panera.

Disneyland Hotel Tangaroa Terrace restaurant

The Disney Resort Hotels each have several themed restaurants. Of course you don’t have to be a resort guest to dine here but the proximity makes it easy. These are some of the unique choices available at the Disneyland Resort hotels:

  • Disney’s Paradise PierDonald Duck’s Seaside Breakfast/Brunch at the PCH Grill is an all-you-care-to-eat buffet along with characters visiting each table.
  • Disneyland HotelTangaroa Terrace offers indoor and outdoor Polynesian-inspired dining overlooking the hotel pool area. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is an excellent stop for creative cocktails. Goofy’s Kitchen offers a breakfast and dinner character dining buffet.
  • Disney’s Grand CalifornianStoryteller’s Cafe hosts Mickey’s Tales of Adventure character buffet for breakfast/brunch. Napa Rose next door is splurge-worthy dining, especially for the Princess Breakfast Adventures character meal. GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill is upscale pool-side dining.

Suite Options

For those on a budget, the pricey Disneyland Resort suites are likely out of the equation. But there are many Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels that offer suite rooms at a great cost. The Desert Palms Hotel is within a few minutes walk to the park gates and offers multiple suite options and bunk beds. In addition, a free hot breakfast buffet is included. 

The Clementine Hotel and Suites (formerly the Residence Inn) is a convenient home away from home with multi-room suites and full kitchens. Ideal for longer stays and large groups, there’s also a complimentary breakfast buffet.

Disneyland Resort Vs. Good Neighbor Hotels? Tips on how to choose the right spot for your family vacation.

Concierge Stay at the Disneyland Resort Hotels

Add concierge level to your hotel visit at the Disneyland Resort for the ultimate plus-up. The additional cost of club-level to an overnight stay includes access to the concierge lounge located at each hotel. Complimentary beer and wine, snacks and items to grab-and-go are available all day. Times vary upon location, so be sure to check with the concierge desk.

Hidden Mickeys can be found throughout the resorts

The Craftsman Club at Disney’s Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel E-Ticket Club and Beach Comber Club at Paradise Pier Hotel:

  • Continental breakfast served in the mornings.
  • Light refreshments in the afternoons. 
  • Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the evening.
  • Desserts served at night.

I’ve experienced the club-level at the Paradise Pier hotel. We ate breakfast in the lounge, stocked up with drinks and snacks that we took to the pool in the afternoon, and had appetizers and wine in the evening before dinner. I really enjoyed the Concierge service and we did take advantage of the drinks and snacks. If you think you’ll be spending enough time at the hotel to take advantage of the dining, this is a nice benefit.

The Bottom Line – Disneyland Resort Hotels vs. Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels

Deciding on a hotel really comes down to what you want, how much time you’ll be spending at the room, how much you want to spend and how far you want to be from the park. It’s going to vary for each family!

Light up musical headboards at the Disneyland Hotel
  • Disneyland Resort Hotels – If you have it in the budget, staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel is incomparable. The high customer service, “Disney bubble”, Extra Magic Hour and use of the fantastic pools might be enough to tip the scales.
  • Anaheim Good Neighbor Hotels – If you are spending more than a few days in Anaheim, consider an off-site suite on Harbor Blvd. You’ll be within walking distance, able to save on the cost of accommodations and often receive extras like complimentary breakfast. 

Tips for choosing the best Disneyland Good Neighbor Hotel

  • Do your research!
  • Read Yelp reviews.
  • Take a look at the area map. Some hotels are close enough to walk & some are many miles away.
  • Do a Google search.
  • Ask a friend or join a Disneyland planning group to ask for advice.


This post originally published June 2014 and has been updated.

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