Wednesday 30 November 2011

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Disneyland Hotel - Time for Another Try?

I stayed in the Disneyland Hotel for the first time in 1980 and I loved it. It was my first experience with a themed hotel, and my first trip to Disneyland, so my opinion of it might be a little jaded, but it became the standard by which all holiday hotels were measured for the rest of my childhood.

Twenty five years later, I brought my kids (and their grandparents) to the Disneyland Hotel for their first visit. It was neither my kids first experience with a themed hotel, nor their first trip to Disneyland, but it was still a great trip. The problem was, that twenty five years later, it was still essentially the same room. Considering you pay a fairly stiff premium to stay in the Disneyland Hotel compared to the other hotels across the street from the park, it didn't take long to decide that we didn't want to take out a second mortgage to stay in a room in significant need of upgrades. We haven't been back since.

2005 Disneyland Hotel room
Then yesterday, I was reading a post on the Travel Mamas (Seriously? Am I really going to complain about being called a "Mommy Blogger" and then tell you to go check out a site called Travel Mamas? Yes I am, because it's a great site, and kind of the whole motivation behind this post.) about the completion of renovations to the Disneyland Hotel. Her pictures are showing a very different room than the one I stayed in last time I was there, and I'm starting to get the itch to go back and check it out for myself.

We seem to visit Disneyland a lot during the Christmas season, and no matter how short a walk it can be from the Good Neighbor hotels across the street, there's something really magical about never leaving the Disney property on your way to and from the park. The Disney controlled atmosphere extends all the way from the back room in the Disneyland Hotel to the front gate of the park (at which point you have to pay for your tickets, and a little bit of that magic disappears). The Christmas season is particularly enthralling - to me a season of Christmas carols and festivities with no snow is the equivalent of a world filled with chocolate and no dentists - but if you prefer to avoid the walk or the Christmas music (You Scrooge you!) then you can always just ride the monorail into the park from right outside the hotel (Assuming it's running. It seems to have about the same track record as the 1980 Chevrolet Citation that I drove in high school.).

The service at the Disneyland Hotel was always great (probably because I never tipped anyone in quarters), and there were always benefits for the premium that you paid. Staying at the Disneyland Hotel, you can get guaranteed reservations at the character breakfast buffet, which is my kids favorite one, probably because of the amount of chocolate that's available so early in the morning (Ironically, there was a dentist office in the Disneyland Hotel when it originally opened.). You get to use the early admittance every day it's available, not just the one time that you're allowed with a three day or more park hopper ticket, and my wife's favorite feature, you can charge all your purchases in the park to your room key and have them delivered back to your room. I'm sure this is a terrible idea, but at least I don't have to carry things around the park this way.

 Travel Mamas also has pictures of the redone pools. I'm glad they've put in some waterslides and expanded the pools a little, but I have to confess that Disneyland is not one of those destinations where I'm all that concerned about the elaborateness of the pool area. It's probably a good thing that they've expanded, but what I hope is that they didn't make it so big that it takes out the area where you used to be able to drive remote control boats. Actually what I really hope is that they combined the two. I was always willing to pay $2 to drive a boat around a mini-lake, but I'd definitely be willing to pay more if I could chase my kids around the swimming pool with it. Run kiddies run!

2005 pool view from room
It seems that they've also redone the suites at the Disneyland Hotel, and this is a huge selling point for me. We almost always get a suite at the Disney properties, and while renovating the normal suites is great, the addition of some Signature Theme Suites is really tempting, yet somewhat terrifying at the same time. I know my wife is going to want to stay in the Pirates of the Caribbean suite, but I know she's going to want me to dress up like Captain Jack. Of course if that room's booked up, we could always get the Princess suite and there's this whole Jasmine outfit....ummmm....maybe we'll just bring the kids and stay in a regular room.

I have to say that I'm really hopeful the renovations to the Disneyland Hotel will put it back into consideration for us as a place to stay while we visit Disneyland. The location, service, and atmosphere were always top notch, it was only the rooms that were lacking. If they've addressed that problem, then it's probably time to give the hotel another try. It'll make my wife happy. I wonder if anyone has ever needed a credit limit increase on their room key before?