One of the boons and banes of the Disneyland Resort is how built up it is around the theme parks. This means that the area has a very busy, touristy feel with some areas that might not be family friendly next door to kid-centric attractions, but it also means that there is a diversity of offerings as far as lodging and food that are accessible by foot. The closest analog to this in Orlando may be Kissimmee, but even there you’d need a car to get to the theme parks and back.
As far as convenience at the Anaheim Resort, nothing beats scoring a room across Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland. These hotels have gotten much better over the years with renovations occurring currently that make these hotel-motels (my word for them since they’re a little bit of each) able to compete with big names like Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt down the street.
The best parts of staying in these hotel/motels:
- Pedestrian access to Disneyland Resort. Why worry about a shuttle, Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) or trying to find parking when you can roll out of bed and walk across the street? For those who have kids or need to take a break in the middle of the day these hotels are great for naps or a respite from crowds and heat.
- Lower rates than the Disney hotels. These hotels are sometimes even closer in distance to the park entrances than Disney’s hotels but cost a fraction of the price. Why pay $600 per night and have to stand in line for the Monorail (which could take you anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on time of day and other guests) when you can pay $160 and get into Disneyland in less than 10 minutes?
- Family suites. Suite-style rooms with separate sleeping and sitting areas are becoming really popular in Anaheim hotels. These are great for the family who needs space or a bigger group deciding to share one room. The suites at the Disney hotels are expensive and in limited supply (you’re looking at $500 and up if you can score a reservation. Don’t even ask about Signature Suites).
- Other hospitality perks such as free breakfast, snacks, or welcome gifts. Some hotel-motels offer perks that set them apart from each other. Be warned though: don’t expect the top-notch stuff the way Disney provides perks. You’re still paying a bargain price in comparison so lower your expectations accordingly.
The bad parts of staying in these types of lodging:
- Potential hidden fees. A few hotel-motels in the past were notorious for nickel and diming guests for every little thing that should have been included or even charging for something that a guest might want to opt out of. The infamous Resort Fee is still in effect in many hotel-motels. Check online using tools such as TripAdvisor to see what past guests might have encountered.
- Parking fees. Anywhere you park a car in Anaheim means you’ll probably have to pay for parking. Booking engines such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline usually have the parking price listed in the Resort Details, Fees, or Amenities. Some hotel-motels offer valet parking so check if that is the same price as self-parking or if that is a higher fee.
- A bit more exposure to the less savory side of the Anaheim Resort. Panhandlers, peddlers, partiers, solicitors, and others are potential interactions outside the Disney bubble. For the most part the Anaheim Resort is incredibly safe and has gotten better each year we visit, but take a look at the surrounding neighborhood, remember to remove valuables from your car, lock and deadbolt your room even when you’re inside, and practice careful awareness of your surroundings for your safety. Outside of the Disneyland Resort there are hazards such as increased automobile traffic that you’ll want to be mindful of.
- Uneven hospitality execution. Because these hotel-motels are a mix of chains and independent ownership you’ll find that service and quality vary between locations. In general the Harbor Boulevard hotel-motels are pretty high quality with good customer service since they’re competing with each other and Disney. You could still encounter everything from cleanliness issues, safety hazards (especially if the property is undergoing renovations), and staff issues.
Since we were visiting during a quieter time of the year we were able to easily reserve at the Best Western Park Place, located directly across the street from the pedestrian crossing to Disneyland. We’ve had good experiences with other Best Western properties, so we felt fairly confident that we would be comfortable and safe at this location.
As I mentioned the hotel is literally at the cross walk, so the only place closer to the parks is the Grand Californian with private access to California Adventure. We were able to get from our hotel room to and into the each park in roughly 5-7 minutes including the security check and waiting to cross the street. We’ve learned over our trips that mornings are the absolute best time to get into the parks to hit up the E ticket attractions before crowds really start forming. The fact that our hotel allowed us to sleep in as much as we could before heading out was a plus. Seriously, who wants to wake up atrociously early because they need to walk blocks to get to the park only to having more walking and waiting in the near future?
While shopping for our hotel I’d made sure to check for any other fees that might be associated with our stay. The Best Western Park Place had no resort fee and parking was only $10 per night, a low rate among similarly situated hotels.
Like many of the Harbor hotel-motels the building is long with parking placed all around the building. There aren’t many elevators so when you check in the front desk staff helpfully point out where the closest elevator is if you need it. The front desk also offers Disney park tickets which can be a time saver versus standing in line for the main entrance ticket counters.
We were tremendously lucky to get a room at the front of the hotel, right above the lobby! Our room was spacious, clean, and refurbished with modern touches I expect from the big hotel groups but not Best Western. Our room looked out on Harbor Boulevard where we could see the Monorail speeding by, Space Mountain, and better still the fireworks at night!
The bathroom was pretty standard with the same toiletries we’ve been seeing at a lot of the other hotel-motels all over, not just in Anaheim.
Our beds were very comfortable and a tad on the soft side. The room also had the standard desk and chair, another table a chair, television, safe deposit box, and refrigerator. We were tickled to see that our television remote was “new” for cleanliness.
A perk that the Best Western Park Place offers is their free morning breakfast. The breakfast room is not in the main building but just next door above Captain Kidd’s Buffet. You’ll go up a set of stairs inside and a staff member will take your room number before you grab your food.
The food was pretty decent for a free breakfast. The hot items included scrambled eggs, sausage, ham, and mini omelets for making English muffin sandwiches. There were pancakes/waffles depending on the day, fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereal. We had planned each day to arrive at the main entrance to Disneyland by 7:45am so we made sure to make it into the breakfast room by 7:00am. At that time the room was busy but not packed and staff were diligent about refilling and cleaning up. I’ve heard from others that later in the morning can be more of a madhouse.
On the whole we were instantly won over by the Best Western Park Place and will consider it a first choice option as far as Good Neighbor hotels go. If you have young children or are looking for the most convenience a good neighbor hotel can offer this is the place for you.