I recently took a trip to Disneyland and stayed at the Disneyland Hotel for four nights. This is a preface to a larger trip report, and merely seeks to answer some basic questions. More to come in the future!
Upon first glance, it may seem like a logical choice to stay at the Disneyland Hotel when visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. It advertises a prime location, Disney styled hotel rooms, and a great family atmosphere. I should note that I am not a huge Disney person, so keep that in mind while reading this. However, I do not believe the price tag of, at the minimum, $300 a night to be worth it in the end. This is of course from the perspective of a family's opportunity cost. It's fairly easy to get a hotel within walking distance (from my view, .5 miles) for under $120 a night and even easier to find one with a quick shuttle for around $80 a night. Looking at some sample dates, I find plenty of three-star hotels for as low as $45 a night with great proximity to Disneyland; those same nights at the Disneyland Hotel are still $300 a night.
Comparing $180 for 4 nights to $1200 at the Disneyland hotel is a question that a family should carefully consider – is the "extra magic" of the Disneyland Hotel worth the extra $1000? This is certainly my opinion, but I feel like a lot more memories could be made via souvenirs and memorabilia than a hotel ever could. Plus, you can't even use hotel points to offset the cost like the Starwood branded hotels in Disneyworld! One caveat to this value is the incredibly useful Extra Magic Hour staying at the hotel provides. These Magic Hours provide you access to the parks one hour early before they open; this is great for riding rides that normally have long wait times. For example, getting to California Adventure at 7:00am may seem way too early, but it was awesome to ride the new Radiator Spring Racers ride three times in under 40 minutes; the wait time spiked to two hours by 9:00am. There's no other way to get these besides staying at a Disney branded hotel, so they are indeed very valuable as long as you are up in time!
One aspect I was disappointed with was the actual proximity to Disneyland. The hotel is actually a solid 15 minute walk from the park; indeed, you have to traverse all of Downtown Disney before reaching the park. For a hotel which advertises its location as a major plus, it's not any closer than hotels near the Anaheim convention center.
More to come in the coming weeks, including room reviews (they're great – super roomy and comfy beds!) and a review of the hotel facilities.