Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel Review

October 06, 2017

As I've been compiling all of our recent Disney trip details, I realized it would be a lot easier to have just a short blog post about our experience at the Paradise Pier Hotel, in case anyone is interested in reading a little more in depth than my regular Disneyland trip post.

Just some background on the trip: We booked our recent October trip with Costco Travel. It's super rare to get discounts on Disneyland tickets or hotels, so Costco's prices were pretty comparable with booking through Disney directly, but we got a bunch of extras with our package. I've detailed all the extras and a full review on Costco Travel for Disneyland here.

For a full post on our Disneyland trip (rides, food, MaxPass, Halloween...), click here!

Why Paradise Pier:

We decided to splurge a bit on this Disneyland trip since we hadn't been to the park in over 6 years and would be there for both Zach's & my mom's birthdays. In the past, we always stay on the east side of the park on Harbor Blvd, but thought staying at a Disney hotel would be closer/nicer/add to our experience.

Some background:
Paradise Pier wasn't originally a Disney property and was later acquired and given a Disney & beach themed overlay. It's a bit farther away than the other two Disney properties (Disneyland Hotel & the Grand Californian), and is usually the least expensive option of the three properties. The hotel can be seen from California Adventure and the deluxe view rooms look out over the park. With our package from Costco, we spent about $395/night there.


The hotel:
The hotel felt really run down, faded and dirty. It was like there was a thing film of grime or something on every surface we encountered. The glass (or maybe plastic?) enclosed elevator in the lobby was covered in splotches and dirt - it was so dirty, you couldn't even see out of it in some places. It probably sounds dumb, but I was super surprised it was so dirty, since Disney is usually the king of details. The carpet and other finishes were worn down around the hotel.

Proximity to the parks:
One of the main reasons we booked an "on property" hotel was the proximity to the parks, but Paradise Pier is a good 15 minute walk to the front gates - at the end of the day, those 15 minutes really added up! When we'd want to take a break in the middle of the day, we had to decide if we even had enough energy to make it back to the hotel to rest in the first place. In the past, you'd be able to cut through the Grand Californian (which opens up directly into California Adventure), but this isn't the case anymore, so you have to walk through the entirety of Downtown Disney to get to the gates. There are hotels much much closer, so if proximity is key for you, don't be fooled by "on property."


We stayed in one of the deluxe park view rooms - it was pretty standard and didn't really have many Disney elements. It never really cooled down and the bed felt super moist from the humidity. It was hard to relax or get good rest there. The carpet was worn down in areas and the furniture was pretty beat up. It was clean, but nothing too spectacular. You can get equally clean rooms for significantly less than $395/night from surrounding hotels.


The View:
Easily the BEST part of our room. Other issues aside, I did love seeing this view every morning & night. It was fun to come back after a long day and still see the park lit up and feel connected to the energy there. We could see people walking around, going on California Screamin' - on the 3rd morning when we left, I felt a little like Ariel staring at the people from the window - "I want to be where the people are!"

Key to the Magic:
Carrying as little as possible into the parks is a MAJOR priority for me. Walking 12+ miles each day, waiting in line, maneuvering around people, getting on and off rides - I don't want to bring more than is ABSOLUTELY necessary. One of the perks of staying at a Disney property is the "Key to the Magic" - your hotel room key can be used instead of a credit/debit card or cash in the parks. Anything you want to eat or buy can be charged to your room with this key as long as you have photo ID. So when we went into the parks, all I brought was my phone, ID, park ticket, and hotel key. No wallet, no cash, no bag!

Souvenir delivery:
Another great perk for people like me who hate carrying stuff all over the park! If you purchase an item in the parks and are staying in a Disney hotel, it can be sent to your hotel to be picked up later, so you don't have to drag a bag around all day and you can avoid the mad shopping rush at the end of the day when everyone is grabbing stuff on the way out of the parks.

The cast members!
This is BY FAR the best part of staying at a Disney property. They were absolutely fantastic from the very moment we drove up. Everyone was super kind and friendly. They had a fun scavenger hunt for the Jungle Cruise and when we completed the questionnaire, they gave us a cute Jungle Cruise luggage tag!

Final Verdict - Would We Stay Here Again?

We didn't love Paradise Pier and will likely never stay there again. All three of us strongly felt like the accommodations & location were not worth the almost $400/night. The pros we liked about Paradise Pier can also be found at the other two Disney hotels. There was nothing positive and unique to this specific hotel that would make it worth returning to again. We were disappointed by how run down and dirty the property was, especially given the price tag. Additionally, it was just too far away compared to other options. We were fooled by the "on property" characteristic, thinking it would give us a proximity advantage, and that ended up not being the case. Overall, we didn't feel like it was worth what we spent on it.

That all being said, I really LOVED the perks of a Disney property - the view, cast members, Key to the Magic, etc. In the future, if our budget allowed us, I would definitely want to try out the Disneyland Hotel & Grand Californian - I'm hopeful properties originally built by Disney would provide a better Disney-themed experience and be worth the expense. The Grand Californian would easily be my top choice - it's the nicest of the Disneyland properties, but has the price tag to match. It's out of our price range for now, but it's my goal to stay there for one of our future trips.

Anyway, I hope our thoughts were helpful! I know most people have limited budgets when they travel and want to make sure they know what they're spending their money on. In the end, I hope our experience was an anomaly though and that other guests had better experiences than we did.

Have you stayed at one of the Disney hotels? What did you think? Do you have another hotel nearby you like better or recommend? Let me know in the comments below 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

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