Exploring Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

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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.”

History

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).

Theme

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.

Surfer Goofy greets guests as they enter the lobby.

Shopping

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.

Mickey in Paradise

Dining

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 PCH Grill. Character dining buffet in the morning, regular menus during lunch and dinner.

Pool

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.

Parking

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.

The parking garage located directly behind the hotel.

Price

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.

 

 

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Posted on August 31, 2012

7 Responses to “Exploring Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel”

  • Just returned from a one week stay at Paradise Pier. Room rate was even lower due to PIN received in mail ($219 Sun-Th and $232 F/S plus tax and parking). This allowed us to take advantage of the early entry every day we went to the parks, which we like to do. (Crowds were very manageable for 3-4 hours in morning. We breezed through Fantasyland the first day in about 1 1/2 hours.) We found it to be well maintained and impeccably clean. Kids loved the slide at the pool as well as the kiddie pool. Got a great view of the fireworks from the pool deck without having to fight the nighttime crowds at the park. Also did the character breakfast at 7:00 am one day we were there and there was hardly anyone else there and several characters (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Daisy and Stitch). Food was good. Kids also liked the make your own pizza at dinner. Employees were warm and welcoming. Walk to parks really isn’t that bad. Can cut through Grand Californian or go over to DD monorail for DL. Good for a less expensive choice if you still want to stay at a Disney hotel.

    • by Guy Selga, Jr. on August 31, 2012, at 9:10 pm EDT

      It sounds like you got a good deal, that price sounds perfect to enjoy all the benefits that come with staying in a Disney hotel. Also, you’re right about the staff and I should have mentioned that they have all been very friendly in the times I visited Paradise Pier Hotel.

  • I love Paradise Pier! We stayed at PP back in February and were very pleased with the atmosphere, service and price. We had diner at Goofy’s Kitchen, so we had a chance to explore the DL hotel and often used DGC to go into the parks. Before I made reservations for our trip next week, I asked my sons which hotel they like best and they both exclaimed Paradise Pier! My 6 year old explained it best when he said “it felt like we never left Mickey’s House!” The PP felt more family friendly than the other two hotels, so back we go!

  • by Martha Nichols on September 2, 2012, at 12:50 pm EDT

    There are a few things that you did not mention about Paradise Pier that the other resorts do not offer you. The Theme Park View from the rooms at Paradise Pier are spectacular! It is the only resort that has a view of World of Color every night. The the rooms sleep 5 people vs the other 2 resorts only sleep 4 per room.

  • I think that your review was a little harsh, especially considering that you didn’t actually stay at this resort. I stayed there for several nights last spring and although it wasn’t as “Magical” as my stay in the Disneyland Hotel, the rooms were well appointed, with a number of Disney touches and it was still convenient to get to Downtown Disney. I think that it is a good choice for people who want a Disney experience, but aren’t willing to pay Grand Californian prices.

  • I don’t think you were too harsh in your review, but I do wish you could see a room with a Theme Park View during World of Color. My wife and I just stayed there and it offered some of the best park views of any Disney hotel.

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