Paradise Pier Review

img_20160824_105920

Recently I visited the Disneyland Resort and had the opportunity to stay in all three of their onsite hotels.  In this last installment, I’ll give you my review of the Paradise Pier hotel.

Paradise Pier was previously a different brand of hotel that Disney purchased and put their own spin on.  It’s directly across the street from the Grand Californian, and while not far from the parks, is the furthest Disney property from the park gates.

This hotel overlooks Paradise Pier in California Adventure park, hence the name.  Of course, that’s only on the one side of the building, and unfortunately my room was on the opposite side.  It was still a lovely view of the city.

This hotel has a seaside feel.  The rooms were clean and comfortable, but lacked the charm of the Disneyland Hotel and the sophistication of the Grand Californian.

img_20160825_202600

img_20160825_202614

img_20160825_202607

img_20160825_202620

img_20160825_202844

img_20160825_202853Located onsite is PCH Grill, a character buffet.  I didn’t have a chance to try it, but the decor looked very fun.

img_20160824_121942 img_20160824_121933 img_20160824_121924

One cute little thing they had off the lobby was a little room for kids to wait while the adults check in to the hotel.  There’s a screen for watching Mickey cartoons set inside a replica of a sand castle.  Cute little beach chairs made an adorable little room.

img_20160824_121624This hotel also has club level accommodations and a club level lounge.  Unfortunately during my time there the pool area was being renovated. I did see a portion of it and it was your standard hotel pool.  Nothing really special.

Overall, this was my least favorite of the three Disneyland resorts.  The location isn’t great and there isn’t much of that Disney feel to me.  It is the least expensive of the three, however, for the price difference, I think the Disneyland Hotel is a better choice.

Grand Californian Review

During my recent visit to the Disneyland Resort, I had the opportunity to stay in all three of their onsite hotels.  In this post, I’ll be giving you my thoughts on the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.

Let me just start by saying this is quite possibly the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay in.  The lobby alone is incredibly impressive and gorgeous.  If you’ve ever visited Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge over at Walt Disney World, the design will look familiar to you as all three were designed by the same architect.

IMG_20160823_091411

Though not quite as sprawling as some of the Walt Disney World resorts, this is the biggest resort on Disneyland property.  It’s home to Storyteller’s Cafe, the character meal location, as well as Napa Rose, considered one of the best restaurants in the city.  I did have breakfast at Storyteller’s and it was delicious.  Characters there included Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Koda from Brother Bear.

IMG_20160824_073600

The rooms were fairly standard size, though I felt they could use a bit of a refresh.  The rooms were not quite as luxurious as I thought they should be for as much as they cost per night, however, the beds were comfortable and the rooms were clean.  The nightly turn down service with chocolates on the pillows was a nice touch.

IMG_20160823_132646

IMG_20160823_132650

IMG_20160823_132713

IMG_20160823_132734

For me, the main draw of this hotel is the gate to California Adventure located within.  In fact, my room was located just a minute’s walk from the gate so I could be inside California Adventure park within 5 minutes.  The gate location is right near Grizzly River Run Rapids and steps away from Soarin. In the mornings, only hotel guests are allowed to use the gate, so if you’re trying to beat the morning rush, this is a fantastic perk.  It’s also very convenient for a midday break if you’re so inclined.

The hotel also opens up to Downtown Disney so it’s very conveniently located for shopping.  From there, it’s just a couple more minutes walk to Disneyland Park.  This is the closest onsite property so if location is worth more to you than price, this is where you want to stay.

Overall, it’s a great resort but I don’t think it has as much charm and personality as Disneyland Hotel.  I think this hotel would be fantastic for adults only trips or couples just due to the sophisticated decor, however, the location makes it perfect for families with small kids.

 

Podcast Episode 110: Shannon’s Disneyland Trip Report

A few weeks ago, Shannon attended an agent education program at Disneyland in California.  She’s back to tell us all about what she learned and how Disneyland differs from Walt Disney World in Florida!

Happy listening!

Listen to Desktop

Listen to iTunes

Education on a Disney Vacation

We all know that taking kids on a vacation will lead to a lot of fun, but sometimes we encounter some education along the way.  Walt Disney said “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” All of us agree with that philosophy that you can learn a lot and still have fun.  Some of us have done this and probably will again but sometimes we have to take our kids out of school for a vacation.  While you have the make this personal decision based on your own situation we are not here to judge either way!  But we do know that when kids miss school they sometimes have to make up that missed time with what they learned while away from school, so I wanted to give some ideas of where your kids could learn while on a Disney vacation.

You will be able to do some first hand research and experiencing and then when you are finished with your vacation your student will be able to do the research that will help them put together a report.

100_5839

Disneyland
California Adventure Park: Learn about the history of California on the basis of the different lands such as Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peaks, Buena Vista Street or Hollywood Land.  These lands are themed around real places in California.

Disneyland Railroad: Check out the original steam trains and Presidential Train Car the Lilly Belle.

Sleeping Beauty Castle: Enjoy this walk through attraction of the story of Sleeping Beauty.  A fun way to compare would be to read other versions and see how they compare

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln: This attraction has nothing but history in it from the 1964 World’s Fare to the subject itself, Abraham Lincoln.

Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters: If you want something really modern check out this trackless attraction.  How do the cars move?  Where do they get commands?  These are just a couple questions you can find out on this attraction.

Luigi

Walt Disney World
Animal Kingdom
Wilderness Explorers: Learn all about different animals and explore the entire park with this fun scavenger hunt!

Rafiki’s Planet Watch: You can watch veterinarians at work here, not to mention get up close to a few animals. This is a great opportunity for those kids that are wild about animals.

Kilimanjaro Safari’s: This is another obvious choice, but you can see so many unusual animals that could spark an interest in one and then lead to a fact finding mission about a species.

630.JPG

Hollywood Studios
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular: It will give you a very basic idea of how movies are made.  This is great for young kids since they will love the special effects and they way you feel like you are looking backstage.

Epcot
World Showcase: This entire part of the park is a learning experience.  Talk to Cast Members from all over the world, try new foods, listen to new music.  The possibilities are endless whether you choose one of many countries to explore.

The Land: Take the Behind the Seeds tour in the Land Pavilion and you can find out some really interesting things about greenhouses, growing crops and even where those plants grown there end up!

DSCN1994

The Seas: This pavilion is similar to the Kilimanjaro Safari as you can learn to much about many types of fish or larger sea life.  If you are old enough you can even swim with dolphins!

Spaceship Earth: This classic attraction takes you through communication in world history from caves to computers.  You are sure to learn something new along the way.

Magic Kingdom
Hall of Presidents: Like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln this is definitely the place to get a presidential history lesson.

The Haunted Mansion: Pepper’s Ghost is the main attraction here, not it isn’t a real ghost but an effect that is used and it is really fascinating.  If your student is one who always wants to know “how do they do that” this is a great subject to study.  You’ll need to ride more than once of course.

People Mover:  Did you know this has a real life application at the George Bush Airport in Houston?  That is the only other place in the world this technology is used for the people mover.

Sword in the Stone: Do you have a kid interested in stories and fairy tales?  This a great place for them to research the stories of King Arthur.  And if you have to rewatch Sword in the Stone that wouldn’t be too bad either.

121

Swiss Family Robinson and Tom Sawyer’s Island: Again if you have a reader they will love to do a report on either of these stories and how they are portrayed at Walt Disney World.

Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel: This carousel is something special.  Originally called Liberty with an Americana theme it was lovingly restored by the Walt Disney World Company.  Check out the history of carousel and you will have plenty of research fodder to write a paper on!

Adventures by Disney
This entire vacation will be a learning experience, particularly if you are traveling to a foreign country.  So many new things to experience even if you travel on an Adventure by Disney within the United States.  New cultures, foods and experiences will be everything here.  For instance if you travel to Italy you can learn to make pasta, in Germany, pretzels. You will tour castles and historic sites.  Meet amazing local guides who can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about the country you are visiting.

Disney Cruise Line
Like Adventures by Disney this entire experience can be one big learning experience while having so much fun.  In port you can take excursions of the historic, foodie and adventurer types.  Or you can check out local museums, forts, ruins, or cultural centers.

IMG_0736.JPG

There is plenty of edutainment to be had on any Disney vacation so we hope this article can help get the creative process moving in choosing something to research.  And who know, this may be the start of the next Disney Imagineer career!