Disneyland Hotel Review: What it’s like staying at the iconic resort in 2024

As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. I was lucky enough to frequent the park as a kid, but never got to stay in the iconic hotel that expanded on the experience of visiting on the park. That was until earlier this year. So what is it like staying at the hotel steeped in some 70 years of history in 2024? Read on to find out…

Though initially an outsourced enterprise, the Disneyland Hotel set the precedent for the “theme park hotel” when it opened in 1955, three months after Disneyland itself opened its gates. Only 6 rooms were ready on its soft opening date, but by 1960 more than 300 rooms were operating on the property, and it became a destination of its own for families, fans and celebrities alike.

In 1961, Disney’s transit prototype “The Monorail” would be expanded to become a practical transport method at the park, taking passengers between Tomorrowland and the hotel. In fact what is now the “Downtown Disney” station, used to be where guests for the hotel would alight. Though the hotel is now a short walk away.

But this isn’t a dated attraction from the 1950’s – in the eternal words of Tenacious D, The Disneyland Hotel of today is just a tribute. Nothing from 1955 still stands today. What started as a two story motel is now some 900 rooms across four towers surrounding a pool (which is undergoing renovations until April 30th, and has some fantastic water slides…) and outdoor entertainment area.

This includes Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar, an immersive Tiki Bar experience (with actual cocktails!) which is worth the walk to the hotel alone. Just be sure to get your name down early to get a seat inside – hotel guests get no special treatment here!

You’re greeted at the front entry of the hotel by a massive blue carpet adorned by the classic Disneyland Hotel logo, which you can see pictured at the top of this article. You’ll enter the resort to find a massive check-in area, where we had no wait, and a friendly and quick check-in process. Unlike at the Hotels in Walt Disney World (Orlando), the park check-in wasn’t able to happen at the same time, and had to be done closer to the park entry. This meant we couldn’t immediately use the Monorail, which was honestly the only snag in the whole experience.

Unlike other hotels around the world that sit next to a Disney Park, the theme of the park is Disneyland itself. Three towers are named after the park’s original lands: Adventure, Fantasy and Frontier.

I stayed in the Frontier Tower, which was once called the Bonita Tower, then the Wonder Tower, before setting on the Frontierland inspired theming.

It opened as the Frontier Tower in 2011, the second of three towers that underwent renovations and renaming at the time. A fourth tower opened last year, “The Villas at Disneyland Hotel”, with 344 guest rooms across 12 floors and various themed experiences. They called this one the Discovery Tower, seemingly paying homage to Disneyland Paris’s version of Tomorrowland, Discoveryland. Though this doesn’t reflect its theme.

In the Frontier Tower, where we stayed, you’ll find a scale model of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in its lobby, the signature attraction of Frontierland.

The floors in the hallways are adorned with It’s A Small World artwork, while the two Queen beds in our room sat against a wood carving of the park’s iconic castle. A black and white photo of Walt walking out of the castle, meanwhile, sits alongside the bed. Both inclusions felt like they could have easily featured in the rooms of the original motel, and heralds a certain nostalgic feel to the whole accommodation experience.

The bed is immensely comfortable, and the hotel has everything you might need, but this isn’t a hotel where you’re going to get hung up on the particulars. It’s about immersing yourself in all the intricacies of the hotel, and the endless supply of “Hidden Mickey’s” that pervade every corner.

The handle in the shower? Mickey ears. The lighting fixtures? Mickey ears in all shapes and design styles.

And then there’s my personal favourite – Mickey hands holding the lights on the bathroom mirror.

Even the coffee cups are covered in ears. And the bedroom floor is covered in his ears, and fireworks.

There are all the modern additions, from a massive flat screen TV, to a Keurig coffee machine, with capsules of coffee and tea, alongside a Disneyland branded condiment kit included complimentary in each room. You’ll also find Disney Resorts branded soaps and lotions, as well as a refillable self-service containers of shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower.

Elsewhere in the hotel, you’ll find Goofy’s Kitchen, which is open for a themed buffet experience for Breakfast, Brunch and Dinner, between 7am and 9pm. Until 12th May 2024, this is being advertised as a “Sensational Springtime Buffet”. You can meet Chef Goofy and get all the details about that experience HERE.

There’s no question the Disneyland Hotel adds so much to the experience from an immersive & nostalgic level – but there are some great added benefits to staying here too. Guests enjoy early access to the park (usually a 30 minute window), with it switching day-to-day between California Adventure and the OG Disneyland. And as they have been offering since the 50s, there are plenty of activities on site as well. You’ll find the list of upcoming activities HERE.

The Disneyland Hotel is one of three hotels that now sit as official hotels for the park. The other hotels – the Grand Californian and the just-opened Pixar Hotel have broader theming options. But if you want the classic charm, there is no substitute for the original. They’ve done a spectacular job of combining old world charm and modern luxuries, and having waited some three decades to stay here, I can happily say it was well worth the wait.

FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

To book your next stay at the Disneyland Hotel, head to https://disneyland.disney.go.com/hotels/disneyland-hotel/.

The author stayed as a guest of the hotel for one night. Photos by the author

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.