When I think of Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland, the two that come to mind are the Disneyland Hotel and the flagship Grand Californian. But Disney does own a third hotel that is not as glamorous. I’ve never stayed in the Paradise Pier Hotel, so recently I decided to take a look around the hotel and familiarize myself with what it has to offer. And by “I decided” I actually mean “Len told me to.”
The hotel opened in 1984 on the lot located south of the Disneyland Hotel and west of the original Disneyland parking lot. Rooms facing the west were originally treated to a view of the 100 acre parking lot. Disney didn’t always own and operate this hotel. The Tokyu Group were the original owners and it was known as Emerald of Anaheim. The hotel was renamed again in 1989 to Pan Pacific hotel. Disney finally purchased the hotel and all the surrounding land in 1995 and renamed it Disneyland Pacific Hotel. In 2000 Disney renamed it to its current name, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, in preparation for the opening of the new theme park known as Disney’s California Adventure. It also received new themeing to match the land in DCA which it overlooked. Even though the hotel opened before DCA had its grand opening, several pieces of concept art from the new park could be seen throughout the hotel (most of these have since been removed or replaced by concept art showing the updated elements of Disney California Adventure).
The western side of the hotel overlooks the land in Disney California Adventure known as Paradise Pier. This land is themed to a Victorian-era boardwalk. This theme is very loosely reflected inside the hotel. You’ll see a lot of surfboards and other surf references scattered throughout the lobby and hallways. I also noticed an alarming amount of wood paneling on the walls in the lobby. Personally, I find this look to be extremely dated.
Mickey In Paradise is the lone shop in the Paradise Pier hotel. In it you will find the typical assortment of Disney merchandise such as hats, pins, shirts, swimwear, beach towels, key chains, mugs, etc. You can also find a limited selection of groceries and medical items such as cereal, milk, chips, bread, sun screen, band aids and aspirin. There is no resort-specific merchandise.
One counter service and one full service restaurant are available at the hotel. Surfside Lounge is the counter service location. In it guests will find the typical Disney quick service menu: hamburgers, chicken sandwich, and a couple of salads. The full service restaurant is called the PCH Grill. If you’re familiar with other Disney resort restaurants you’ll notice similar offerings here. Entrees like NY Strip Steak, Grilled Chicken Breast, beef/veggie/turkey burgers, and some special items like The Works Pie made with cheeses, pepperoni, sausage, pulled pork, pineapple, mushroom, and onion. In the mornings this location is turned in to a buffet with character dining known as Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey & Friends. The last time I ate at PCH Grill was a couple of years ago for breakfast. The food was good but the dining area was busy and very loud. The hotel formerly had a third restaurant named Yamabuki. This expensive sushi restaurant closed in 2009 due to lack of demand.
The pool is located on top of the hotel’s convention facility, so it gives a nice secluded feel. The downsize of this is that the pool is relatively small and I’ve heard it can get a bit busy. There is also a water slide, hot tub, and kids pool. There is a bar located next to the pool called Surfside Lounge. As you can see, this is a no frills pool.
The Paradise Pier hotel has its own parking garage. If the garage is full it is flanked by several large parking lots including some used for extra Downtown Disney parking. The main entrance to all of the hotel’s parking areas is located off of Disneyland Drive, across the street from the Grand Californian. There is a $15 daily parking fee for hotel guests.
After exploring almost everything the hotel had to offer I honestly wasn’t too impressed. It reminded me of a value resort in Walt Disney World, except it was some how even less impressive. Like I said before, the lobby area looked downright out of date, but the rooms were recently updated and have a nice, modern feel. With all that being said I was a bit surprised when I compared rates with the other two Disney hotels on property. One peak season night with no discount will cost you $315. Compared to $435 for the same night in Disneyland Hotel, and $535 for the same night in the Grand Californian Hotel. Good Neighbor Hotels (hotels that Disney does not own) in the area can be booked for half that price and offer much better amenities. The premium price you are paying is for the location and access to the theme parks one hour earlier than non-Disney resort guests. Speaking of location, you’re still in for a bit of a hike if you walk to Disneyland or DCA. According to my pedometer it is a little over a half a mile from the front entrance of the hotel to the esplanade between the two theme parks.
Overall I doubt anyone would be disappointed after staying at Paradise Pier Hotel, but for slightly more you could stay at the fantastic Disneyland Hotel. Or for half the price you could stay at a nice non-Disney hotel in the area.