by Liane Bonin Starr
Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is just a short stroll from Disneyland and Disneyland’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California. Of Disneyland’s three official resorts, the Paradise Pier Hotel stands out as the most family (and budget) friendly. While standard rooms lack some of the luxuries found at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Disneyland Hotel, chances are guests will never miss them.
Remodeled in 2012, the 481-room hotel is a clean, convenient choice with plenty of Disney flair. The colorful, retro-themed decor mirrors the boardwalk at Disney’s California Adventure Park, and amenities such as a rooftop waterslide and beach-themed video room give kids onsite options once they’ve left the park. Thoughtful details such as a 24-hour vending machine room, an all-hours laundry room, “hidden Mickeys” in the carpeting and complimentary swim diapers next to the pool set the hotel apart from nearby, non-Disney properties, too.
Our Editor Loves
- Views of Disneyland fireworks
- Seaside-inspired retro decor
- Rooftop pool with waterslide
- Theme Park
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Rooms throughout the hotel have Disney, as well as beach-themed details, such as lamps featuring Mickey figurines, anchors or surfboards, Disney movie posters and beach scene artwork. There are even beach ball pillows on the beds. All rooms offer basic amenities such as mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, Pack 'n Play cribs, shampoo and conditioner, in-room safes and coffeemakers.
Beach-themed standard view rooms offer views of either Disneyland Drive or the parking lot of the hotel. Guests can choose between two queen beds and one day bed, or one king bed and a queen-sized sofa bed. All rooms have a desk as well. These rooms sleep up to four guests.
Standard View - Club Level
These beach-themed rooms overlook the parking area and guests can choose between one day bed and two queen beds, or one king bed and one queen-sized sofa bed. In addition to all standard amenities, club level guests can enjoy beer, wine and appetizers (5 to 7 p.m. nightly); snacks (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.); and continental breakfast (6:30 to 10 a.m.) daily. Other perks include free DVD and board game rentals and priority check-in and check-out. These rooms sleep up to five guests.
These beach-themed rooms offer views of Disney's California Adventure Park with one day bed, two queen beds and a desk. Tip: Book a room that faces Disney's California Adventure Park for views of the nightly World of Color show. These rooms sleep up to four guests.
Premium View - Club Level
For an additional fee, you can choose between one day bed and two queen beds or one king bed and a queen-size sofa bed. But the club level is really about the extras. In addition to all premium amenities, club level guests can enjoy beer, wine and appetizers (5 to 7 p.m. nightly); snacks (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.); and continental breakfast (6:30 to 10 a.m.) daily. Other perks include free DVD and board game rentals and priority check-in and check-out. These rooms sleep up to four guests.
The beach-themed suites, which sleep up to seven guests, overlook the parking area, Disney's California Adventures Park or Disneyland Drive. Guests can choose between two queen beds, one queen-sized sofa bed and one twin-sized sleeper chair, or two queen beds and one queen-sized sofa bed. Suites have interior corridor access, a desk and a vanity area.
Sleeping up to 11 guests, beach-themed, two-bedroom suites offer views of either Disney's California Adventure Park or the parking lot. Both bedrooms have TVs, while one has a desk and the other a sofa and a desk. The living room has a large sectional sofa and a dining table for four.
There are five beach-themed suites named after different beaches and harbors in California: Dana Point, Newport, Huntington, Laguna and Malibu. Each one sleeps up to 13 guests. Potted plants, upholstered dining room chairs and a number of seating areas (a table for two, bar seating or a table for six) are available in the open-plan, living/dining area.
We've stayed at Paradise Pier 3 or 4 times. We love how handy it is to the park. You can come and go, taking breaks any time you need them.
The character breakfast is fun for the first visit, but once is probably enough.
The hotel is next to Disneyland but actually the entrance is a few blocks away. The hotel room was decent but a bit costly. The food service was mainly buffet but a nice selection. If the Disney Characters are present at dinner that is great for the youngsters but be prepared to pay for that big time. Dinner for four costs $200. The staff is very helpful and well trained as you would expect in a Disneyland operation. I rented a scooter for my wife who had a bad hip and that was a Godsend. The scooter was delivered to the hotel and kept in room at night. It was well worth the $50 per day!!!. The package we purchased included an early entry feature for one day and that also was very nice. I recommend that as well.
On the third floor rooftop terrace, there are a few choices for making a splash. The pools and hot tub are open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily, though these times can change depending on weather. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. For toddlers, there's a hot tub-sized children's pool that's only 1 foot deep, perfect for splashing. Complimentary swim diapers are kept right next to the pool in case you forgot to pack your own. Adults can try the basic swimming pool (it's the smallest of the Disneyland hotel pools), which ranges from 3.5 to 6 feet in depth (no diving allowed). There's also a hot tub, which is restricted to guests 14 or older. There is always a lifeguard on duty during pool hours.
The California Streamin' waterslide is oddly self-contained, set apart from the pool instead of emptying into it. However, the 300-foot, 2.5-story slide (which is open from 11 a.m. to 7p.m.) allows kids of all ages (as long as they're walking) a chance to recreate some of the twists and turns of the California Screamin' roller coaster. The slide also offers a great view of Disney's California Adventures Park. Like the pool, the waterslide always has a designated cast member on hand to supervise.
While most of the activities at the hotel are geared toward younger kids, teens can enjoy the hour-long pool parties held at 5 p.m. daily during the summer months. A DJ spins tunes and guests can dance or play games.
The pool area isn't just for swimming. For guests who don't want to beat the crowds to see the nightly fireworks at Disneyland, the pool deck is a relaxing alternative -- not only do you get a great view of the show, the music and dialogue that accompanies it in the park is piped into the pool area.
Families can take in a movie under the stars on the hotel's rooftop pool deck. You can bring your own food and drinks. Plan ahead -- the viewing area, which includes deck chairs in front of the screen -- opens a half-hour before the show. The movie schedule can be picked up at check-in.
On the main floor of the hotel, kids can watch classic Disney cartoons in front of a sandcastle-encased television while lounging in classic, Adirondack-style beach chairs in the Paradise Theater. While the room is always open, there's no supervision, so parents might want to hang out in the room's adult-sized beach chairs.
Flounder's Fun 'n' Games is a small arcade on the main floor right off the lobby that has classic video games, a basketball-toss game and even a vibe-ride for the little ones. Tokens can be purchased inside, so don't leave your wallet in your room. However, there's no supervision, so you may want to stay nearby.
The Paradise Pier Hotel has one sit-down restaurant, one fast-service restaurant and a poolside snack bar, though guests can also choose to eat at one of the 94 eateries located within Downtown Disney, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure Park.
Disney's PCH Grill
While all three Disneyland Resorts offer a chance to have breakfast with Disney characters, this restaurant is your only chance to see Mickey outside of the parks. Reservations are a must, and can be made up to 60 days in advance. Breakfast is an all-you-can-eat buffet from 7 to 11 a.m. and has an omelet bar, chilaquiles, a parfait yogurt station and even Mickey-shaped waffles for the kids.
Dinner is available from 5:30 to 9 p.m. with choices like cedar-plank salmon, surf and turf, pizza and pasta. Kids picks include grilled chicken, build-your-own pizza or cheesy macaroni -- and the whole family can dig into the "kitchen sink," which is 10 scoops of ice cream served in, yes, a sink.
Open from 6 a.m. to midnight, this is a casual lobby spot for a quick breakfast, morning (or evening) coffee, a cookie break or a glass of wine. Meals such as "Mickey" waffles, sandwiches and salads from the PCH Grill can also be ordered here.
The Sand Bar
Open in the spring and summer, the Sand Bar is located next to the rooftop pool. Though hours can change based on the weather, this convenient snack bar is usually open from noon to 6 p.m. Guests can pick up quick options like hot dogs, snacks, specialty drinks and other treats.
In-room dining is also available daily, all day long.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Special Park Access
Guests staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel like the Paradise Pier Hotel can enter Disney California Adventure Park via a special entrance at the Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. Re-entry is also allowed.
Key to the Magic Card
Guests of the Paradise Pier Hotel receive a Key to the Magic card at check-in, which works at a room key, resort charge card and parking permit. The card can be used throughout the theme parks, hotels and Downtown Disney.
Paradise Pier doesn't offer onsite care, but the good news is that all guests of Disneyland resorts can take advantage of Pinocchio's Workshop. A supervised club for kids ages 5 to 12 at the Grand Californian, it offers kids a chance to play, work on crafts and games, or watch (of course) Disney movies. The workshop is open from 5 p.m. to midnight, and costs $13 per child, per hour. Dinner is available for an additional $5 fee.
The 24-hour fitness center has state-of-the-art equipment, including treadmills, bicycles (both regular and recumbent), elliptical trainers, stair climbers, free weights and weight machines.
Vending Machine Room
Though dining options are limited at the hotel, the vending machine room is a cut above the usual hotel soda and snack choices. Guests can pick up everything from snacks and milk to razors, sewing kits and even pantyhose, and the room is open 24 hours a day in case you realize in the dead of night you've forgotten something.
A 24-hour, coin-operated laundry facility is open for guests to use on the second floor near the fitness center.
The Art of Smart Timing
Thanks to California's temperate weather and guests drawn from around the world, the variations in high and low season aren't extreme -- Disneyland is always busy. However, June through August are the most crowded months, with mid-January through March (with the exception of President's Day weekend) being slower. You may also want to consider mid-April through mid-May (except for spring break) and mid-September through mid-November (avoiding the weeks around Halloween). Visiting mid-week (Tuesday through Thursday) is also a reliable way to get more reasonable hotel rates. However, make sure you check park hours before you book -- during slower months, some park attractions have limited hours and the parks often close earlier.
John Wayne Airport and Long Beach Airport are the closest airports to the Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim, California. However, it's often easiest (and cheapest) to book a flight into Los Angeles International Airport. The drive from LAX to Disneyland can be just 40 minutes, but quickly swells to more than 2.5 hours if you travel either way during rush hour.
Once you park at Paradise Pier Hotel (self-parking is $17 a day for guests, $25 per day for valet parking), the good news is you won't have to get back in the car to visit either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park. Just walk across the street to enter the California Adventure Park through the Grand Californian Hotel, or walk into Downtown Disney, where the Monorail will take you past the gates to Disneyland and straight into Tomorrowland.
For Mom and Dad
While Paradise Pier Hotel is geared toward family fun, there are options for grown-ups nearby.
Located at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, this full-service spa and salon offers couples massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing. The Couples Retreat Ritual features a full-body couples massage and facials.
Foodies and romantics looking for an upscale evening will find it here at Napa Rose, an upscale restaurant inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. California wines, Craftsman-style decor and a locally inspired menu give diners a reminder that Southern California is more than just Disneyland. Choices include scallops in lobster-lemon sauce, wood-fired pizzettas, winter squash and almond gnocchi and a "best ever hot chocolate" to cap off an evening. Reservations and resort casual dress are recommended. If you decide to bring the kids along on your date night, there's a kids' menu.
The Voodoo Lounge at House of Blues
At this Downtown Disney spot grown-up guests will find soul food-inspired appetizers (think voodoo shrimp, sliders and mac and cheese) and a lengthy list of beers and specialty cocktails. For night owls who show up after 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, there's live music, too. Happy hour is from 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. to closing seven days a week.