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If a trip to Disneyland is in your future, you may have a long to-do list before you reach the “Happiest Place on Earth.” One of the things you'll need to decide: Where will you stay? For Disney fans, two popular options are the Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel.
The main difference between the two is their themes and on-site facilities. But depending on when you’re planning a stay, the difference between Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel versus Disneyland Hotel will vary significantly.
That’s because Paradise Pier is in the process of a massive facelift. As of this writing, the property is undergoing refurbishments for its rebrand as Disney’s Pixar Palace Hotel. Although the reopening of Paradise Pier under its new name isn’t scheduled until late 2023, guests can continue to book reservation stays.
If you’re planning a trip to the parks before the refurbishment is completed, here’s what to know about these two properties.
Paradise Pier vs. Disneyland Hotel: The similarities
Early park entrance
All Disneyland Resort Hotel guests — whether staying at Paradise Pier or Disneyland Hotel — have early park access to either theme park each day of their stay. You can enter the park 30 minutes early.
Note that you’ll still need an admission ticket or Magic Key, and a reservation to the park for that day. Park reservations are also not guaranteed just because you’re a hotel guest, so plan your park date visit ahead of time.
Both hotels are located west of Disneyland Drive. It’s a two-minute walk between hotels, with Disneyland Hotel at the west end of the Downtown Disney District, and Paradise Pier slightly south of both landmarks.
Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier are an 11-minute walk to the Esplanade to access both park entrances. Guests of both hotels will need to walk through Downtown Disney to get to the parks.
» Learn more: How to purchase theme park tickets with points
Paradise Pier vs. Disneyland Hotel: The differences
When it comes to Disneyland Hotel versus Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, you’ll experience significant differences if you’re staying before fall or winter 2023.
The per-night cost is the first difference guests might notice between Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel. Disneyland Hotel tends to charge higher rates compared with Paradise Pier. Currently, the online reservation system also allows guests to book stays for dates after Disney's Pixar Palace Hotel opens.
Below is a basic price comparison for a standard or premium room at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Disneyland Hotel.
Friday, Aug. 18, 2023
Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023
Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023
» Learn more: How to budget for a family trip to Disney
Theme and feel
Regardless of when you visit, Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel will have vastly different themes and aesthetics.
The Disneyland Hotel theme offers guests a classic Disney charm, with several room towers named after familiar Disneyland Park lands.
Aside from several hidden Mickeys throughout the property, the overall aesthetic leans on the Disney magic that guests expect. Standard rooms, for example, have a beautiful headboard of Aurora’s Castle with illuminated fireworks.
Paradise Pier, on the other hand, has a beachy and nautical theme. Upon entering the main lobby, guests are greeted by a figure of Goofy holding a surfboard. Retro-style surfing decor and beachfront elements adorn the property.
Once Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel reopens as Disney's Pixar Palace Hotel, guests can expect a Pixar-centric theme throughout the hotel, focusing on different Pixar characters and worlds. Some publicized design renderings, for example, reveal a lobby centerpiece of the Pixar lamp and ball, replacing the original Goofy statue.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
Currently, on-site dining on each property is another notable difference between Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier. Disneyland Hotel offers guests several dining options, like Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill, Goofy’s Kitchen, and Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar — a tiki bar that pays homage to Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride.
Due to ongoing construction, guests staying at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel don’t have an on-site dining option. There is currently a self-serve market that offers convenience store snacks. For a full meal, you’ll need to visit nearby restaurants in Downtown Disney or a restaurant at another Disneyland Resort hotel.
Recreation options between Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier are also different currently and likely in the future as Disney refurbishes the latter.
Disneyland Hotel offers many recreation opportunities right on the property for guests and families to enjoy. This includes two themed pools with poolside cabanas — including waterslides and water play areas for the kids.
It also has a fitness center and offers fitness classes for those who want to stay active throughout their visit.
The pool, waterslide and whirlpool at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel recently reopened to guests, but the fitness center and laundry facilities remain closed.
Paradise Pier guests are invited to use these facilities at the other two Disneyland Resorts hotels: Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
Thankfully, it’s just a two-minute walk for Paradise Pier guests to use Disneyland Hotel’s recreation facilities, but it can still be inconvenient.
Disneyland Hotel vs. Paradise Pier Hotel recapped
If you want a hotel that immerses you in a traditional Disney experience, and you have a flexible budget, Disneyland Hotel is your best option. However, if you’d like the more affordable accommodation for a Disney property, Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel might be a better fit.
Just expect that if you stay at Paradise Pier before its relaunch, you only have access to extra facilities at the other Disneyland Resort hotels.
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