This question came from Michael:
I found a great post from April about the best time to go to Disney World based on crowds, price, weather and special events. Is there a similar article for Disneyland? I’m not as concerned about the weather given the SoCal climate, but would like to avoid the bigger crowds. Thank you.
The times of year with bigger crowds are going to be similar to Walt Disney World- this summer is especially higher crowds with the new Cars Land opening, highest levels are expected now through about August 20th.
The big question on our trips is which resort hotel we will stay at in Disneyland. We have to fly over the ocean to go, so we have a long time to save up between trips and love the on-property perks. Now that we’ve stayed at all 3, it’s nice to have an overview of the ones we will stay at for future trips that might help your planning as well.
Paradise Pier Hotel
This hotel wasn’t originally a resort hotel, it is the lowest priced of the 3 resort hotels, yet not value-priced. The decor is California beach style, my boys had lots of fun with the beach ball pillows. My biggest complaint is the elevator situation- there are 3 main elevators for the whole hotel and one glass elevator on a different system. We did learn the trick- go up to get down, which reminded us of “go left to turn right”. Just one of those opposite-world kind of things. The 3rd-floor rooftop pool is heated and the kids loved the “California Screamin’” waterslide. The lobby stays pretty busy and they have a few restaurants there as well: PCH Grill (home to Mickey’s Surf’s Up breakfast and the Kitchen Sink dessert) and Surfside Lounge.
Just coming off a refurbishment, the Disneyland Hotel is the original and my favorite of the resort hotels. The headboards come alive with lights and music (“A Dream is a Wish”) and I also like that the building names reflect more of the parks: Adventure, Fantasy and Frontier. The D-ticket pool, E-ticket pool and Monorail pool with waterslides and hot tubs are newly open as well with a kiddie area. There are a few more dining options here: Coffee House, Goofy’s Kitchen (premium character dining), Steakhouse 55, Tagaroa Terrace- Casual Island Dining and Trader Sam’s- Enchanted Tiki Bar. It’s best proximity is to the monorail that goes into Tomorrowland of Disneyland park, which I love after a long day of walking the parks!
Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
This resort hotel reminds me of the Wilderness Lodge- very similar with the same architecture and big open feel. It is the most deluxe of the 3 and also has the Villas associated with it for DVC members. It has it’s own entrance into the California Adventure park and is right in the middle of Downtown Disney with about the same distance to the monorail as Disneyland Hotel, and it’s proximity to both parks are the best. There are also 3 pool areas to play in at this resort, the Fountain pool, Redwood pool with waterslide and the Mariposa pool with hot tub. Whitewater Snacks is near one of the pools, Hearthstone Lounge is in the main lobby, Storytellers’ Cafe is home to the buffets and Chip and Dale’s Critter breakfast and their signature restaurant is the Napa Rose. It’s amazing to me how you can find peace and quiet in this resort even with how many guests there are and how it’s right in the middle of all the action. The Mandara Spa is also in this hotel as well as many other services (babysitting for ages 5-12, tours and classes)
All of the resort hotels sleep 5 in a room, usually with 2 Queens and a daybed but the Grand Californian has some rooms with a bunkbed and pull out trundle.
Have you stayed at any of these resorts? What did you think? Let me know in the comment box below.
- Disneyland Resort Dining: Fun Facts (chipandco.com)
- Special Ticket at Disneyland Resort Offers Two Days of Fun for $99 for Southern California Residents (chipandco.com)
One stop we enjoy on our Disneyland trip is at the Storyteller’s Cafe for dinner on their nights with prime rib. Something about Disney just makes prime rib taste even better! So far, we’ve gone on Fridays and it’s been there, but since we haven’t been back in a while, I can only suggest that you check first!
We went once for a birthday dinner and another time just for fun. There are always so many other options, but it just doesn’t feel right if we don’t go on a night with prime rib.
Last week while we were at the Aulani, we ate at Makahiki- and prime rib was one of the MANY choices! Is one prime rib the same as any at Disney? Even though they offered dishes from so many cultures (Hawaii and other Polynesian islands, Philippines, Asia, etc), it just wouldn’t be complete without a Disney prepared prime rib!
Next stop- try some prime rib at Walt Disney World, when my husband goes for his first time!
- My Perfect Disney Day: Disneyland food highlights! (chipandco.com)
- What’s On the Menu At Laniwai? (chipandco.com)
Now on iTunes is the Cars 2 World Grand Prix Read and Race app.
For my 5 year old son, reading is a bore but this isn’t like any regular book. As you read along with the narrator (it can also be turned off for independent readers), you get to customize cars for your team to race with later. If you skip ahead, you may miss one of those “customization” spots during the story. He enjoyed picking colors, spoilers, wheels and going back to the story- then the big race at the end!
During the race we noticed it takes a very light turn to stay on the course- he got used to it as he tried. The user can pick which car to race out of their team and one of two tracks to race on- we liked driving through Radiator Springs.
He has been asking to play this over and over ever since we tried it out. We use computer games as rewards, and he will do what is asked if something like this is his reward. This one falls between educational and fun in our family! Something for me (I require an educational element) and something for them so it made everyone happy!
Even my 3 year old son enjoys following along and designing his cars. He hasn’t tried the race yet, but we’ll have to give him some help at first so he can get used to the turns.
This app is $6.99 on iTunes for iPhone and iPad.
- Cars 2 World Grand Prix Read and Race App! (chipandco.com)
- Disney/Pixar Kicks It Into High Gear with Cars 2 (chipandco.com)
Disneyland is the perfect place to be to catch all the favorites in one day- and park hopping is a cinch! You just walk across to the gates of California Adventure and your set!
I started out doing my My Perfect Disney Day by doing a ride plan, but thought the more I wrote I realized the star of the show is the food, so I figured why not share my Disneyland food highlights.
We like to start at Goofy’s Kitchen- so much fun to dance and play with Goofy and friends to get our day started, oh and breakfast too- can’t forget the most important meal of the day!
Then monorail it over into Tomorrowland, I love arriving in the park that way. After some rides in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, we grab some popcorn in a bucket after some rides to keep our energy up a little longer.
Heading to Frontierland next for Big Thunder and Rancho del Zocalo for lunch- those cinnamon tortilla chips are a great dessert to get the kids to eat their meal.
Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country are our next stops. A MUST is Pooh’s Corner for some sweet snacks- I usually grab the chocolate covered Mickey pretzel or the chocolate-covered rice krispy treat. I’m also tempted to try the new Hungry Bear menu on our next trip- or else the Mickey beignets at Cafe Orleans.
We like to grab a Dole whip before the parade and then hop over to California Adventure.
After some California Adventure fun, we stop in to Storyteller’s Cafe for their dinner buffet on prime rib night. I’ve even sat by Geena Davis at this restaurant while waiting for our table. No characters this time of day.
Then out to the park through the special resort entrance for World of Color after more rides. On cold nights, we love the Paradise Pier chowder/soups in bread bowls- it does get cold for us the time of year we usually go.
Did I miss anything? What are your Disneyland favorites?
- Disneyland Grad Nite – New Twists on a 50-Year Tradition Coming in 2012 and 2013 (chipandco.com)
- Special Independence Day Shows at the Disneyland Resort (chipandco.com)
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