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A Beginner’s Trip to Disneyland Part Two – Paradise Pier

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I recently wrote a post of how I (Christina) planned out my first-ever trip to Disneyland. After a lot of research, we chose split stays at multiple Disneyland hotels. Check out my experience and thoughts on where we stayed!

As previously mentioned in Part 1 of my Beginner’s Trip to Disneyland series, we decided to book 1 night at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, 2 nights at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and 2 nights at the Disneyland Hotel.

We ultimately chose the Disney-owned properties for a few reasons. First, we didn’t know if this would be a once in a lifetime trip and wanted to experience the Disney properties. Second, we weren’t familiar enough with the area around the parks to know which Good Neighbor resorts to choose.

First Impression

My first impression of Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel was that it was very similar in style and theming to a lot of the value resorts at Walt Disney World – just all condensed into one tower. There were a lot of bright colors and the overall theme was very laid back and whimsical. 

I almost felt as if I was pulling up to an Atlantic City hotel, which is the point since the resort is themed after a beach pier.


After flying into the Vegas airport late the night before and driving 4 hours that morning to get to California, we arrived at our first hotel: Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel.

Upon arriving, we were immediately assisted by Disney bell hops willing to take our luggage onto a cart and guide us to check-in. Check-in was a smooth and seamless process. The hotel was clean and the staff were all very friendly. 

They gave us plastic key cards which blew me back in time. After living life with MagicBands at Disney World, going back to a key card took some getting used to.

They also explained how to use the elevators since they are different than what you would normally expect to see at a hotel.

There was a key pad on the outside of the elevators where you selected your desired floor. Then you would be told which elevator to take. No need for pressing buttons once inside!

This was a great feature because it help to condense trips to the same floors, prevented overcrowding and shortened the wait time to get to where you wanted to go!

Room Upgrade!

When we checked-in, we were told that we were upgraded to a theme park view.

Normally, I don’t care about what I look at out the window, but our view was absolutely stunning and such a wonderful pixie dust moment to start off our first trip!

That night we were able to watch World of Color from our window and they even played the music on the TV! 

The room was very nice! Much better than the value resort rooms at Walt Disney World in terms of quality and having two beds, but on-par with the value-style theming.

The beds were extremely comfortable and we all woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed at the crack of dawn the next morning since our brains were still on Eastern Standard Time.

Pool Amenities

Because we had arrived in the afternoon, our plan was to have a relaxing day of swimming and hit the parks early the next morning after sending our bags over to the Grand Californian.

Photo Credit: Disney

I have to say I was super underwhelmed by the pool at Paradise Pier. It wasn’t even up to Walt Disney World value resort level standards. It was honestly more what I would expect out of a Motel 6 or regular hotel. 

Photo Credit: Disney

The pool was super crowded and there wasn’t that much to do. The slide was fun but nothing special. There was one small hot tub, but that also crowded easily.

Dining at the PCH Grill 

I was so thankful that I booked a restaurant that was directly inside our hotel. We were all exhausted and just walking downstairs was the perfect commute.

The PCH Grill is located on the first floor of Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. We visited pre-covid so at that time all meals were buffet-style. At breakfast, guests could meet Donald and his friends, but dinner was just the buffet.

The food at PCH Grill wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t bad either. It reminded me of a scaled-down Chef Mickey’s. All the food was hot and the buffet had a nice variety of options to enjoy (which was all I needed at that point). The desserts were the standout course hands down.

Unfortunately, PCH Grill is one of two restaurants (the other being Steakhouse 55) that will be permanently closing. At the time of publication, Disney has not announced future plans for the space.


Waking up at 5:00am from the time-change worked out to our advantage. My whole family was wide awake and ready to go, which normally takes a small miracle and lots of screaming at Walt Disney World. 

We checked-out early and had our bags shipped to our next resort, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, just before we walked over to Disneyland park. 

Something else I wasn’t used to was having to walk to the park. Coming from Disney World where you need to take transportation almost everywhere, this threw me off.

Compared to some of the other Good Neighbor hotels, it was a bit of a walk to get to the parks from Paradise Pier. This is something to consider when choosing your resort, especially if you have a mobility issue.

Final Thoughts

Would I ever stay at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel again if I went back to Disneyland? The simple answer is….No. The hotel was incredibly overpriced for the experience. At over $300 per night, you would expect something more on par with a moderate or deluxe-style resort theming/accommodations.

That said, our stay wasn’t all bad. We enjoyed the theme park view of California Adventure and the beds were very comfortable.

While PCH Grill was a fine option for dinner, I also wouldn’t race back just to eat here. We experienced a lot of dining locations on our vacation and this wasn’t a standout among them.

Also, no one else will be racing back there either so there’s that.

If you are looking to stay at a Disneyland hotel for the park perks associated with an on-site stay, this is still the cheapest option and the more economical choice among the three Disney-owned hotels.

Have you ever stayed at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook! Be sure to stay tuned for Part 3 of our Beginner’s Guide to Disneyland Series coming soon!


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