Decision: Disneyland Hotel vs Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park EntranceI've stayed in many Courtyard hotels over the years, but I knew from this podcast episode that this wasn't any ordinary Courtyard. It was within walking distance to Disneyland, with bunk beds in every room, and some room options included separate sleeping areas for kids and adults. I knew the themed pool/water park area would be a hit with my kids, and the walking distance to the park entrance was listed as only five minutes. A Disney gift shop in the lobby also seemed like a nice touch to bring in some Disney theming. I also knew that some rooms had views of Disneyland, and it might be possible to see the fireworks from the hotel. The Disneyland Hotel was the first official Disney onsite hotel ever built, and my bucket list includes staying at every hotel named "Disneyland Hotel" in the world (so far I've only got the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel checked off). I knew the theming of this hotel would be amazing, and that my kids would love the hotel decor and the amazing pool area. The allure of being in the Disney Bubble was very strong for me. However, I knew that this hotel was a bit further away from the park entrance than the Grand Californian, requiring a walk through the entire length of Downtown Disney (about the same length as the walk from the Courtyard to the park entrance). And more importantly, I knew that we could only afford to get a standard room in the Disneyland Hotel, not a suite. I found that for the same price as a standard room at The Disneyland Hotel we could get a 1 Bedroom Suite with separate sleeping areas for the adults and kids at the Courtyard. Remembering the sleepless nights we had when we all shared a room, I chose the Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance on Harbor Blvd.
The GoodWithout a doubt the best thing about staying at the Courtyard was the space. The room was even bigger than I imagined, with a totally separate room for my husband and I, a separate space for the kids, and a large living room/eating area. Each kid had their own bunk bed, so they could both get the top bunk! There was no cooking area in this suite, but all we needed was the small fridge provided. The bathroom was big, with one toilet but two showers (one with a tub). We all slept great in this room and appreciated the space. I also appreciated being able to stay at a name brand I trusted, since many of the other Good Neighbor hotels had brand names I was not very familiar with. The walking distance was as advertised, five minutes to the main gate and an additional few minutes to the turnstiles. Even with two young kids, door-to-door from hotel room to park turnstiles was less than 10 minutes. We were so close to Disneyland that the monorail track was right across the street and we could see the Matterhorn at an angle from our room, though technically we didn't have a view. On the way to the park we passed a Panera, a McDonalds, and an IHOP, and it was nice to have offsite options for eating within walking distance.
The Not So Good
The Walk: While technically the walking distance to the park entrance is about the same as The Disneyland Hotel, it is a very different kind of walk. The walk from The Disneyland Hotel is through Downtown Disney, but the walk from Courtyard is along Harbor Blvd, which is a very busy road. While the road is well-lit at night and there is a large crosswalk, seeing cars zoom past while walking to Disney is not part of my desired Disney Bubble experience.Many cast members also use this entrance, so we would often see cast members in their uniforms arriving and leaving each day. But what bothered me much more was that each morning and evening we would walk by several homeless people along the route, and even right outside of the Disneyland entrance. I don't want to come across as insensitive, but I was totally unprepared for this, especially coming from the Florida Disney Bubble. I will say that I never felt unsafe, and we were only politely asked for money a few times, but this was just totally unexpected. The Pool: My kids did enjoy the pool/water park area, and we used it for an hour or so one day. There is no lifeguard, just a ride attendant at the top of the slide who tried to keep kids from running around in the splash area by calling down to them from the top of the slide. I appreciated the effort, but this area was big enough that it could have used another attendant. There wasn't a real pool by my standards, just a 3.5-foot-deep pool that was too small to do any real swimming in. There was no lifeguard but there was a sign posted prominently with the number for 9-1-1 and the fire department, with the hotel address listed. I know that the Disneyland Hotel would win in a head-to-head competition for best pool area. The Incident: I know that no hotel is perfect, and sometimes things go wrong. What really matters is the management's response when things go wrong. In our case, on the last night of our vacation the fire alarm in the hotel malfunctioned. This happened first at 8 in the morning, then four times between 10 pm and 2 am. Each time it happened the hotel guests were assured it was the last. Eventually my family received a room for the night next door at the Howard Johnson Hotel so we could get some sleep before our last day in the park. But what I really would have liked were complimentary FASTPASSes to make up for the late start we got for our last day of touring, due to lack of sleep. If I had stayed onsite and an incident like this happened, that would have been a possibility. Also, the incident really could have been handled better, and I was missing that legendary Disney service.