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Hotel Review: Disney’s Paradise Pier

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We recently got back from a fantastic trip to Disneyland where we stayed at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. I wanted to write a review while the trip is still fresh in my mind to give you guys an overview of the resort, the room and dining options, and some tips you might want to know if you’re thinking of staying there or have an upcoming trip. Read through my Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel review for more information.

You can read through my other hotel reviews here.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
The lobby was decorated for Christmas

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel Overview

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the most affordable of the Disneyland Resort Hotels, coming in at a cheaper price than the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. It is also the furthest hotel from the Disneyland Parks but is still on Disney property (and the distance between Paradise Pier and the Disneyland Hotel is literally a couple of minutes walk).

We found the prices at Paradise Pier to actually be pretty comparable to some of the Good Neighbor off site hotels so if you want to enjoy the perks of staying at an onsite hotel without spending a fortune, this is probably the resort for you.

Speaking of onsite perks, guests staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotels receive Extra Magic Hours similar to those found at Walt Disney World. The only difference is that these Extra Magic Hours are only in the morning, and alternate between the two parks (Disneyland Extra Magic Hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with the other days for California Adventure).

We found these early hours to be invaluable; we managed to get on every single ride in Fantasyland at Disneyland on one of our days, and another day we enjoyed three rides on Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure before the park even opened to the public – once the park opened, the wait time jumped to over an hour!

We did find that the Extra Magic Hours were less busy when they were at earlier times. We had two Extra Magic Hours at 7am, and our last one at 8am. The 7am openings were much quieter, even though they were on a weekend, whereas the 8am one was the busiest of our trip. I would assume this is just because less people want to get up early, but coming from the East Coast, time was on our side and we were up early anyway!

Another perk of staying on property is being able to charge purchases from around the Disneyland Resort back to your room. When you check in you’ll put down a $250 deposit which will be refunded upon check out if not used, however you can also use that money to charge purchases back to your room from most places throughout the resort.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

Rooms at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

I’ll start by saying that we’ve stayed at all of the Disneyland Resorts, and from past experience, Paradise Pier was my least favorite. I felt like it didn’t have much of the Disney atmosphere, feeling more like a Doubletree than a Disney property (this hotel was previously owned by an outside company and Disney purchased it – I’m sure that’s why it feels this way).

I will say that I’ve since changed my mind a little and we would absolutely stay here again, but that doesn’t mean I changed my mind about everything.

Writing reviews like this I like to be as honest as possible so people know what to expect, and my main opinion on Paradise Pier is that it feels dated. Not horribly so, but things like the furniture and the color scheme chosen  feel a bit more Golden Girls than modern Disney hotel. Everything in our room was clean and well maintained, it just felt a bit old.

We chose a standard room that overlooked the pool (and a lovely parking lot beyond that!) – I know pool view rooms are available so I’m not sure if we were upgraded, or perhaps since we were so high up we weren’t considered much of a pool view.

We were on the 9th floor and the view was actually really pretty, especially at night – you couldn’t see the park, but you could mountains far in the distance and I loved standing at the window looking out as the sun went down. There are rooms that have a park view that offer views of California Adventure.

The room was clean and well taken care of, with all of the usual amenities, including a mini fridge and a coffee maker (it was an older style coffee maker and really did not make the best coffee – luckily there are two Starbucks in Downtown Disney!)

One thing to note is that the complimentary toiletries are in large dispensers in the shower instead of the individual containers; I much prefer this, but for those who like to take those home as souvenirs, you’ll be out of luck.

One of the cutest touches were the Pixar ball pillows on the beds – my boys absolutely loved these and would happily have taken them home with them!

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
A double room

My biggest complaint about the room was the lack of outlets, something I’m sure is due to the rooms not having been refurbished in a while.

Most modern hotel rooms have multiple outlets and USB ports but the only ones in the room were over by the desk, with two USB ports in the alarm clock. This meant if I wanted to charge my phone overnight, I had to put it on the desk – not a huge deal, but not the most convenient.

I think most people these days travel with multiple devices that need charging, and this lack of outlets would be a bigger problem with more adults in the room since we’d struggle to all charge phones or plug in laptops at once.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
The TV unit and daybed

The room was comfortable and we were happy with it, I just think a major refurbishment of the rooms here is probably needed in the near future to make them a little more modern and user friendly.

One of the things my kids loved most about the resort were these cool elevator pads. The hotel had four elevators, and when you pushed the button for the floor you wanted, it would tell you which elevator which would be available next to take.

They had these in the lobby and on each of the floors, but there were no buttons in the actual elevator besides an emergency bell (so if you get on the elevator and realize you’re going to the wrong place, you have to get off and start over!)

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
The elevator bank had this cool system

My kids loved this; of course they’re still young so there were still arguments over who would push the button, but once in the elevator there was no more fighting since there was nothing else to push. This system seemed super efficient and we never waited more than about 30 seconds for an elevator.

Dining at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

There are a few different dining options at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel: a table service restaurant, a counter service pool bar, a lounge, and in room dining.

The table service restaurant, The PCH Grill, serves both breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is a character meal, where you can dine with Donald and friends at Donald’s Seaside Breakfast Buffet, and dinner is a buffet featuring Italian cuisine.

We didn’t dine at The PCH Grill during our trip, but when we were researching our trip, the universal opinion seemed to be that there were better character meals elsewhere and that the evening buffet was just OK.

The counter service pool bar, Slurpin’ USA, has a full bar and serves basic pool side food like chicken tenders, nachos, and fries. We stopped by for drinks one day and while the food was fine, I probably wouldn’t eat here unless we were by the pool and just wanted something quick and convenient.

Surfside Lounge is open from 6.00am to midnight and is located right off the lobby. We visited here a few times to pick up things like juice, muffins, and fresh fruit to keep in the room for breakfast the next day. We also went in one evening when we’d come back from the parks tired but still hungry from an early dinner, and ordered some appetizers and kids meals to take up to the room.

Sometimes we found the lounge packed but during the day it was often very quiet. Service was quick and friendly, and there was a TV playing cartoons to keep the kids busy while we waited.

My main take away from dining at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel were that the food options were fine and convenient for guests staying at the resort, but with Downtown Disney just a few minutes walk away, there were much better options close by.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
One of the better food options; Queso and Chips from Black Tap at Downtown Disney

The pool, water slide, and other recreation at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

The rooftop pool at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is located on the 3rd floor. It’s a fairly basic pool and since it’s quite small in size, I would imagine it can get busy quite quickly in the summer months. There is also a slide called California Streamin’ that looked like it would be a lot of fun.

There aren’t many other activities for kids at the hotel, although there is a cute little kids “theater” just off the lobby with mini deck chairs and Disney cartoons on a loop which is a great area for the kids to wait while you check in to the resort.

Mickey in Paradise is the merchandise shop just off the lobby where you can pick up all kinds of Disney souvenirs, as well as some toiletries and basic drinks and snacks; we were able to get milk for the kids to keep in the room as well as some crackers to take to the parks with us.

Getting from Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel from the Disneyland Parks

One of the best reasons to stay onsite at the Disneyland Resort is the fact that you can walk to the Disneyland Parks. This is something so foreign to me as a Walt Disney World local, but was easily one of my favorite things about Disneyland!

The other Disneyland Resort Hotels are closer to the parks (with Disney’s Grand Californian having a private entrance to California Adventure) but Paradise Pier is only a little bit further away. We timed it at 20 minutes from leaving Paradise Pier to arriving at the entrance to the parks, and considering that was with two young kids, I would guess adults could make the trip much quicker.

Walking from Paradise Pier you cut around the Disneyland Hotel and then through the entrance to Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney at Disneyland has a security checkpoint where bags are checked and all adults go through a metal detector before entering – the parks do not have separate security checkpoints though.

I really liked this, it made things quick and efficient (if you’re entering from a parking lot or through another entrance, you’ll go through a different security checkpoint).

Downtown Disney has some really amazing places to eat and shop, and we loved walking through there on our way to and from the hotel every day. As previously mentioned, there are two different Starbucks locations to grab a coffee on the way to the parks, and there was live music playing at night when we went back to the hotel.

Having the hotel so close by meant we could easily take a midday break, something that is invaluable with young kids!

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
There were decorations and Christmas music playing through Downtown Disney on our trip

You can also take the monorail from Downtown Disney right into Disneyland itself; you scan your tickets at the monorail entrance and then you disembark in Tomorrowland (you can also take round trips on the monorail, either starting in Downtown Disney or in Disneyland, but you will need park tickets in order to board the monorail in Downtown Disney even if you don’t plan to get off in the park).

The monorail trip was quick but had some great views of the parks. One thing to note is that, unlike the Walt Disney World monorail system, strollers must be folded to board the Disneyland monorail, which means taking out sleeping children. I didn’t realize this until the monorail arrived and had to wake a grumpy toddler in order to fold his stroller – had I know, we just would have walked back to the hotel instead.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
The walkway from the lobby to the door leading out towards Downtown Disney

What else do you need to know about Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel?

  • Check in is at 4pm and check out at 11am, although late check out can be requested. If you arrive before your room is ready, the hotel will store your bags until your room becomes available.
  • Parking is $25 per day for self parking and $35 per day for valet parking. There is an Alamo Car Rental office at the hotel if you want to rent a car for the day to explore the surrounding area.
  • The closest airport to the Disneyland Resort is John Wayne Orange County (SNA) and largest large airport is Los Angeles International (LAX). We found prices were cheaper coming in to LAX since there were more options for airlines, but we have flown into SNA before and it is much more convenient.
  • Various transportation options are available from the airports to the resort. We used the Disneyland Express (similar to the Magical Express at Walt Disney World, except this one isn’t complimentary and services other hotels besides the Disney ones). We paid $76 round trip from LAX to Paradise Pier for one adult and two children. The service was comfortable, on time, and easy to find at both the airport and the hotel. One thing to note is the Disneyland Express schedule – if you have an early flight, the earliest drop off at the airport might not be early enough for you.
Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

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