The Harbor Boulevard hotel-motels are trying to keep up with the times. With big name chains moving in and Disneyland starting to buy out hotels to start expanding (goodbye Carousel Inn), these old standards know its only a matter of time before they’re watching their customers take their business elsewhere. While staying at a hotel during a renovation is never fun, staying in a newly renovated room is. We had the opportunity to stay in a brand-spanking new room at the Tropicana when we visited for Mickey’s Halloween Party.
The Tropicana is one of the oldies on Harbor right across the street from Disneyland. It is a sister hotel of the Camelot Inn next door, but they are striving for a sunny, SoCal beach theme. On the other side of the Tropicana is the Best Western Park Place, a favorite of ours but frequently sold out. We decided to try the Tropicana based on its location and price point.
The Tropicana’s price is on par with the Best Western, but we read reviewed to be warned that service won’t be as consistent. With Marriott’s Courtyard and Fairfield properties nearby with significantly higher prices (we’re talking double the price per night plus at least double for parking), and most lower priced hotels nearby sold out, we did a coin toss between the Tropicana and the Camelot, which are almost always the same price.
The layout of the hotel is like so many other hotel-motels in Anaheim: a U-shaped building with parking and pool in the center. Like other accommodations on Harbor parking is separate and can be tricky, especially if the hotel is fully booked. The Tropicana offers a valet option at no extra charge if parking is tight. There is a large section at the back of the property that is designated as valet only, so you might end up circling for a while if trying to self-park. If you do opt for valet be warned that they do stack park (sandwiching three or four vehicles to save space) so you could be waiting a while to get your car and your car may be entered many times if it needs to be moved to access other vehicles. Parking is $15 per night, which seems to be the standard for Harbor hotel-motels (Best Western Park Place is lower at $10 and the Courtyard is higher at $20). If you have a large vehicle like an SUV or van you may want to leave it at home: the spaces aren’t necessarily any smaller than a normal parking space but with narrow lanes and lots of vehicles, the bigger the vehicle the higher chance of hitting something or someone.
There is a small sundry store and café at the front of the property is you need to do some light shopping or grab a bite to eat. There is no breakfast service so the café is your closest food option. Nearby to the north are a McDonald’s, Panera, and Mimi’s Café, and to the south are Captain Kidd’s (please don’t go!), Denny’s, and Tony Roma’s. With Disneyland right across the street you can slip into the parks within 10 minutes.
You won’t get a clear view of the fireworks from most rooms, and even the rooms that directly face Harbor have an obstructed view due to trees and Space Mountain. It you want to go out to watch the fireworks at the front of the property, the café has a few tables and chairs you can relax in. A better option for the fireworks is just to walk to the Entrance Plaza between DCA and Disneyland and plop down on the pavement. You’ll have a better view and still be able to make a quick walk back to the hotel. Because the view is obstructed and the hotel is relatively small I don’t recommend requesting a room closer to the front unless you have mobility issues.
As I said before there was a remodel going on while we visited. They had planned it in stages so not every part of the hotel was affected. We noticed that a few rooms on the first floor were being worked on and there was an indoor hallway on the second floor that was also a construction zone. For that hallway area the rooms appeared to be occupied, which makes sense from a business perspective, but might not be what you planned for your vacation. We didn’t encounter any hazards in the work areas but we were well-warned that construction was ongoing and to be careful.
We opted for our usual two queen hotel room. Our room was on the second floor towards the back. There are elevators situated around the property, but none close to our room. We did have to make two circuits of the parking area before we found a spot, and even then it wasn’t close to the room. I’d dropped off Busy Bumble with the luggage closer to the stairs so we wouldn’t make the trek bogged down with heavy bags.
We were lucky to have one of the renovated rooms for our stay, and it is definitely an improvement over the previous rooms. Before the remodel the rooms were done in a nondescript traditional style with muted colors and little decoration on the walls. That has totally changed.
The room is amazingly colorful, especially the striking blue mural behind the beds. This bold use of color is just my aesthetic so I was pleased from the start. The darker wood headboards and the palm trees made me think of strolling the pier at San Clemente, which is probably the vibe they were going for: relaxing beach vacation. The beds themselves are medium to soft, which gives a little while you sleep but not too much.
One of the fun additions to the room is this armchair that turns into a twin bed. This means the room and sleep up to five without a crib or roll away. There are instructions on the side table so you can figure out how to unfold the bed. I’ve seen something similar at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and I think it’s a great idea for hotel rooms in Anaheim. No longer do you have to worry about whether or not there’s a roll away available, and if your family is larger than four you have at least one more bed.
The bathroom area is laid out like other hotel-motels, with a sink and vanity area outside of the locked bathroom. The bathroom has a typical toilet and tub shower combo. The remodeled bathroom is modern, with clean lines and the same beachy feel as the bedroom. I liked that the tiles in the shower were large tiles with minimal grout versus either the molded fiberglass or square porcelain tiles seen in so many other hotels. The toiletries are branded for the hotel and are coconut scented, further cementing the tropical beach theme. Another detail I liked was the tall cubby in the shower stall. There is a smaller, shorter one that is just the right size for the hotel’s toiletries, but the larger, taller one is great for full-sized bottles. If you have a favorite shampoo or conditioner that you don’t want to pour out of the bottle, this cubby makes it easy to keep them in reach.
I had very few complaints with the accommodations, but there were a few.
First, was the parking situation. I understand that they are dealing with a large volume of vehicles and a small space. I understood that they probably wanted people to opt for valet so they can control the space available. In that case they should just get rid of the self-parking option, which is what the Courtyard down the block has done. This was an early source of anxiety for our trip. We’ve stayed at the Best Western Park Place and had no problem with parking there and I’ve heard from others that hotels such as the Grand Legacy at the Park have better parking situations than what we encountered at the Tropicana.
Second, was the noise between connecting rooms. Like most rooms in the hotel there is a connecting door so that two rooms can become a suite. At night it seems like that door was the source of most of the noise that disrupted our sleep. There was a family in the next room with a small child who had nightmares at night and sang loudly early in the morning. I love to see families at Disneyland and I’m fairly forgiving of how loud kids can be in hotels, having been a loud kid myself. I dealt with it for a weekend, which wasn’t a big deal. If you’re staying longer you may want to consider noise issues as a potential problem. If you have a room that opens out to an exterior walkway (most of the hotel) you’ll also hear people coming and going frequently.
On the whole I was mostly pleased with our stay. The room was excellent (I wonder it if will stand up to the thousands of guests it will see in the future) and the staff were courteous and helpful. You get a good value for the price you pay, which is why we choose to stay on Harbor most of the time. I’m curious to see if the Camelot will remodel in the future, since the revamped Tropicana is definitely moving up on the list of recommended hotels in Anaheim.