We recently stayed four nights at the Legoland Hotel. It was my daughter’s birthday and we will be moving to the East Coast in a few months so we wanted to treat her and us to an all out vacation.
I’m usually the frugal traveler, taking the best room I can find for the best price, but as everyone in the family stated, this was the best hotel we’d ever stayed in. See why we liked it so much below.
These three things will always be in my suitcase every time I travel. They not only make my stay more comfortable, but also help to keep the kids calm and comfortable in a new place.
I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotels on the Disney strip, better known as Harbor Blvd.
There are a few simple things to understand about the two types of hotels to make an informed decision for your next trip and possibly save you tons of grief because you will know what you are getting yourself into.
Disney hotels fall into two categories for me:
1. The ones directly across the street from the Disney entrance.
2. All the other ones, I will call these the Shuttle hotels.
I’m not going to talk about the three branded (or Disney owned) hotels in this post. Those of course are the most coveted and expensive hotels and need little consideration if you have the money for them. I’m giving advice for the rest of us who try to save money on the hotel to spend in the park.
I am going give some benefits and downsides to each kind of hotel. There are some definite advantages to certain hotels if you have small children, so read on.
The Shuttle Hotels
Hotels that are far from the entrance of Disneyland offer shuttle buses.
These buses are offered at a small fee to transport you to the entrance of Disney.
This is usually a better deal than paying for parking if you drove your own car and is a must if you have no car and don’t want to make the walk to the park.
The shuttle buses vary in size, they are specific to the hotel you are staying at.
Some don’t have under bus storage. That means if you have a baby, and a stuffed stroller. You will have to remove everything from the stroller, fold the stroller and carry all this and the kid who goes in the stroller on the bus and into your seat. Ask me how I know.
Traveling at different times from the rest of your party is nearly impossible, you will need at least two people to handle this maneuver. Also hope the bus isn’t completely full or the stroller could be sitting in your lap.
If this might be you, call ahead to the hotel you are looking at and ask them if their shuttle bus has storage below.
The shuttles runs continuously throughout the day.
Usually they will pick up at each destination every 30 minutes and they run before and after the regular Disneyland park hours.
You will live by this 30 minute timeline throughout your trip.
You must plan to be out in front of the hotel or Disneyland at the correct time, or be stuck waiting another 30 minutes for the next shuttle.
If it is a busy time, usually before the park opens and after the park closes, the shuttle you showed up for may be too full for you to fit and you will have to wait 30 minutes for the next one. There is also no real line system set up at Disneyland. Whoever is lucky enough to be standing where the shuttle door stops gets on first even if you were waiting before them. You might not fit on the shuttle even if you were the fist one there. Ask me how I know.
Nicer amenities and larger rooms.
Most of the shuttle hotels are much larger than the close hotels. They offer beautiful pools, many with poolside food and beverage service. They offer happy hour in their large lounges and much more overall bang for your buck.
You may never use any of it.
A lot of these extras can go wasted. Nowadays the cost to get into Disneyland has skyrocketed which makes many people want to stay in the park to get their money’s worth.
They are not that far from Disneyland.
The farthest hotel on the “strip” (aka Harbor Blvd) is a mile from Disneyland. If you like to walk, this is not that far. For reference, the walk from the Mickey and Friends parking structure to Disney is 1/2 a mile if you want to avoid the tram.
So you can always avoid the shuttle and just walk it.
Little kids and a mile walk do not mix.
Your back will probably not like you if you make the walk with little kids.
Because about a block in, they will be begging for you to carry them. They can go all day in Disneyland because they are excited about the next thing they see. The walk to Disneland — not so much. They see an endless road with no rides in site. If they can fit in a stroller, bring one — your back will thank you.
The Close Hotels
You are close!
You are literally across the street from the entrance to Disneyland (right where the shuttle hotels let out). You can quickly head back to your hotel anytime throughout the day to pickup, drop off, eat, rest, etc…
These hotels look more like motels. They usually have a small pool and maybe a free breakfast and that is about it. Parking can also get difficult because of the small lots. Most of these hotels will give you free valet to another location if the lot is completely full though.
Great for families with small children.
No folding the stroller. Pack it down and roll on over. Have a kid who was just weaned off the stroller but refuses to walk another step? Save your back by walking just past the shuttle stops to your hotel.
Good thing you have small children, because the rooms are pretty small as well. If you have a large stroller, it can take up the only free space in the room.
Personal preference is key when booking your hotel.
If convience is key and you don’t enjoy living by a schedule, a close hotel is the way to go.
If you enjoy better amenities, and plan on not spending all day in the park. Or if you have older children or no children at all and enjoy walking (because you can always walk instead of taking the shuttle,) the shuttle hotels will be a better choice.
Personally, I’m at the stage of close hotels because I have two small children who refuse to leave the park and are too wiped out at the end of the day to make a walk or wait for a shuttle.
I have enjoyed the shuttle hotels in the past (but not the shuttle, I usually walk with the stroller,) and would love to stay in the Grand Californian one day. All are great choices, it just depends on your current situation.
Where do you stay when you go to Disneyland? Why do you choose this particular hotel. Share below so we can all gain some more insight.
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