Need to book some Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Rest? Los Angeles Holiday Goddess editor Vicki Arkoff has some suggestions.

The Marriott Anaheim

After a tiring day at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, there’s nothing you’ll appreciate more than your hotel bed. So better pick it carefully: the neighborhood has dozens of lodging options from swanky to skanky.

 BEST BET:  The Anaheim Marriott (pictured, at 700 West Convention Way, 714-750-8000). If the hefty price of Disney’s Grand California is hard to swallow, and you don’t want to risk crashing for the night in a thread-bare motel where 1000+ kids have used your swaybacked bed as a trampoline, you’re not alone. You’ll save hundreds of dollars and your sanity by staying just a few blocks away from the Disneyland entrance at the sophisticated Anaheim Marriott. Like the Hilton Anaheim across the street, the Marriott is a large convention hotel but you’d never know it.  Service is friendly and flawless. Rooms are luxe, spacious and quiet. Although the hotel was near capacity during our two stays (once during the insane comic book expo Wondercon), I never once heard footsteps in the hallway or a neighbour’s bathroom plumbing, there was never a wait for restaurant seating, elevators, valets, or concierge service, and personnel at every level went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed. Room service was scrumptious. Housekeeping even cheerfully mailed us two items we accidentally left behind in our room, no charge. But best of all, the hotel provided a needed escape from Disney overload which made our recent visit our best yet. Despite its size, the Anaheim Marriott is a calm oasis where kids don’t run rampant in the lobby, the elevators never play “Hakuna Matata,” your pancakes don’t have mouse ears, and they’re served by a professional waitress who isn’t forced to dress in a Goofy costume. When I mentioned my relief to one of the hotel’s executives he laughed, shyly confessing that he’s the son of a Disney legend: Ilene Woods, the original voice of Cinderella. How sweet is that? Just another reason to love the Anaheim Marriott, a 5-minute, US$4 shuttle ride to the Disney parks (which run every 20 minutes) but a world away. And shucks, Mickey, that’s a gosh darn good thing.


SPLURGE: If money’s no option, the clear choice is Anaheim’s only four-star resort, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and SpaFirst of all, the location can’t be beaten. It’s the nearest lodging to all three Disney attractions in California: Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. Secondly, it’s a destination unto itself. A loving homage to the great National Park Lodges — especially in the spectacular lobby and restaurants – it’s a wonderland of design, sophistication and whimsy offering the finest in service and accommodations (including family suites with bunk beds). The exorbitant price tag is enough to scare off most families, however, which is a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. Personally, I feel it’s so overpriced you can’t possibly get your money’s worth here, especially if you spend most of your day offsite in the parks. Sure, your room key gets you early admission to Disneyland on certain days, but the only way to truly enjoy the Grand Californian is to treat it as the main attraction. I’d skip the character wake-up call and sleep in, order room service for breakfast, workout in the fitness center, take an hour guided tour of the hotel’s craftsman artefacts, lounge at one of three pools, soak in the hot tubs, take in a meditative Zen Buddhist tea ceremony, book a Frangipani wrap treatment at the Mandara Spa, spend happy hour in the Hearthstone Lounge, enjoy fine dining at Napa Rose (Orange County’s favorite restaurant, and for good reason), view California Adventure’s World of Colour show from my room window, and step outside the hotel front door to see the Disneyland fireworks display.  The Grand Californian is high-concept, high-priced bliss, and there’s nothing Mickey Mouse about that.

EXPENSIVE: For Disney magic at slightly lower prices there are two additional options: the stalwart Disneyland Hotel (1150 Magic Way, 714-778-6600) featuring a large pool area and special park entry via the hotel’s own Monorail station; and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (1717 Disneyland Drive, 714-999-0990) the least conveniently located of the three Disney hotels and the least expensive. All Disney properties have attractive pool areas, offer early park entry via an exclusive gateway for hotel guests, feature Disney character restaurants, Disney character wake-up calls, and provide package delivery service to your room so you don’t have to carry your theme park souvenirs all day. On the plus side, when you stay at a Disney resort hotel you never have to leave the magic of Disney. On the negative side, when you stay at a Disney resort hotel you can never leave the magic of Disney.

BUDGET: Location, location, location is key, so most visitors find a convenient bed, complimentary parking, and free breakfast at a dozen modestly-priced motels within walking distance. All the major chains are here, including Best Western Park Place & Mini-Suites (1544 South Harbor Blvd., 714-776-4800) and Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel (1380 South Harbor Blvd., 714-776-6120) – both located directly across the street from the Disney Resort entrance…which is a good thing, because you’ll want to leave most of those rooms ASAP. Countless independently operated motels thrive here too, most notably the cleaner and more-charming-than-usual Candy Cane Inn    (1747 South Harbor Blvd., 800-345-7057) which offers nice but occasionally noisy rooms, and a courtyard pool at bargain prices. Beware the other bargain temptations unless you find dumpy (no, not one of the 7 dwarves) décor charming.



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