Disneyland’s Paradise Pier Hotel

Looking for some Californian Adventure?

Paradise Pier Hotel

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is the smallest hotel in the Disneyland area, but that doesn’t meant to say its any less special! The hotel is situated a little further out from the parks than the other two Disney hotels, but as the name suggests, one side of the hotel looks towards Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure park, and as a shortcut, guests can cut through Disney’s Grand Californian hotel and use the private entrance to get straight into the park.

Its really easy to get to the park entrances on foot; just a few minutes walk to Downtown Disney, then through DD to the main entrance. Being so close to Downtown gives guests a huge range of dining options, on top of the restaurants at the hotel which include character dining at PCH Grill and chilled out drinks and snacks at Surfside Lounge.

The whole hotel is beach themed, with a statue of Goofy and his surfboards greeting guests as they enter the reception area. This theme continues into the guest rooms, with cute accents like beach ball cushions and classic cartoon artwork, plus this adorable lamp!

Dad and I actually rated the beds here more comfortable than in Walt Disney World, in case you were wondering!

Now the hotel boasts a rooftop pool, and this is true.. But its the third floor roof. We only used it in the middle of the day, and it was January so not exactly California heat, but it was a nice pool and you’d probably be able to watch the Disneyland park fireworks from it in the evening!

As well as the pool, the hotel has a gift shop and arcade, as well as a cute little tv room playing classic cartoons with mini deckchairs; they’re adorable!

Pros

  • Close proximity to the parks and Downtown Disney, and preferred rooms can see California Adventure!
  • Character meals available
  • Super comfy beds
  • Use of the Grand Californian’s private entrance to California Adventure park
  • Cheapest of the Disneyland hotels
  • Pool with slides
  • Extra Magic Hours in the parks – usually one hour early in the mornings

Cons

  • Quite pricey compared to offsite hotels, some of which are just as close
  • $18 per day for self parking, and $28 a day for valet – just seems kinda steep!

Have you stayed onsite at Disneyland?

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Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

It’s been 3 months since Dad and I began our journey home from our incredible RunDisney trip, and I think its about time I told you what I thought of our stay at the resort!

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Location:

POFQ is right across the road from Epcot, which puts it pretty central to the whole WDW area. Because all of the RunDisney races start at Epcot, this turned out to be ideal for us, meaning we could afford another half an hour or so in bed!

As well as being able to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios fairly quickly, the bus trip to Magic Kingdom was fairly short too, and you’ve got the added bonus of being able to catch the water taxi straight from the resort to Disney Springs! Its also only a short walk to Port Orleans Riverside on the river path if you fancy a bit of an explore!

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Layout:

I really loved how seemingly compact this resort is. The reception, concierge, shops and restaurants are all located in one central building, with the bus stops just outside, which is probably no more than a 5 minute walk from any given point in the resort, and the pool and laundry services are right in the middle too!

Set out like the streets of New Orleans, the room buildings are laid out around squares of pristine grass and cobblestone roads, each of which has a cute name like Rue de Baga!

Having stayed at Caribbean Beach back in 2014, where everything seemed like quite a walk away, this was such a nice, close-knit place to be.

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Rooms:

I’ve generally found that rooms in moderate resorts tend to be set up fairly similarly, but its the little touches that magic each resort unique! The mardi gras theme of POFQ is continued in the rooms with purple and gold accents, and classic little Disney details.

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Dining:

The main food court, Sassagoula Floatworks has a range of counters serving different quick service offerings, as well as takeaway pizza, ice cream and famous beignets!

There’s also Scat Cat’s Club by the reception area, a bar with live music, and Mardi Grogs by the pool.

Activities:

The pool at POFQ is quite something; its got this huge alligator slide and all sorts of poolside water activities for the little ones, as well as a hot tub for the grown ups. There’s also evening movies on the grass squares between the room buildings, and an arcade near the pool.

You can also use the river path to Port Orleans Riverside resort as a running track.

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Overall Pros:

  • Nicely compact, so you don’t need to worry about having to drag tired little ones back to your room late at night
  • Great proximity to pretty much everywhere
  • All amenities are central and easy to get to
  • Walking distance from Port Orleans Riverside
  • The whole theme is so much fun, and the cast members love going the extra mile to keep the mardi gras spirit alive!
  • Great pool for kids
  • Water taxi to Disney Springs
  • An ideal location for RunDisney race participants

Overall Cons:

  • During quieter times, park buses share a route with Riverside, so you may have a slightly longer ride than expected – this is generally only during the day, after park close there are normally separate buses

I think that pro/con list reflects pretty well on how I feel about this resort – we really liked it! I definitely think its my favourite moderate resort (so far!) and would happily stay here again!

Have you stayed at French Quarter?

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‘Ohana

Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. Or is left hungry..

Ohana is one of the many restaurants in Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and as the name suggests, family is top of the agenda. We booked for Mickey’s Best Friends breakfast on the last morning of our trip (booked the day before, not well in advance), mainly because the girls love Lilo and Stitch, who visit the table during the meal along with Mickey and Pluto, and we hadn’t had the chance to meet them for photos and autographs.

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The breakfast menu is classic: bacon, scrambled eggs, toasted muffins, and Mickey waffles, all brought to your table in a massive bowl for you to help yourself from. Your servers will also serve tea and coffee, and ‘Stitch juice’, which is delicious!

It was a nice meal, and a good way to finish our trip, but it wasn’t a mind-blowing meal like some of the other meals we had, so if you’re short for time or low on table service credits, I wouldn’t rush here again. All that considered though, if you’re nearby and looking for a good, hearty breakfast, here’s a good stop.

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Chef Mickey’s

Whether you’re staying in Contemporary Resort or not, Chef Mickey’s is definitely a place to go if you get a chance!

The food is an all you can eat buffet, with a salad bar, soup of the day, carvery meats, pasta bakes, and a load of veggies and side dishes, as well as kiddie options such as Mickey shaped mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and pizza.

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Oh, and did I mention its a character meal? Well it wouldn’t be Chef Mickey’s if the chief himself didn’t visit! Mickey, Minnie and the gang all come round to make sure everything’s ok with your food, and make sure you don’t get too messy, cos you’ll be needing your napkin for the famous napkin dance – yes, that is exactly what the name suggests; join the characters as you dance around the restaurant waving your napkin over your head!

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A real hit with the family, and a great excuse to ride the monorail from the Magic Kingdom!

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Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show

Get your hawaiian shirt on and practice your luau skills, you’re gonna need them at this exciting dining experience at Disney’s Polynesian Resort!

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First things first, you MUST book in advance, these seats get snapped up fast, and the poorer seats have a rubbish view of the performance. You will have to guarantee your table with a credit card, and if you’re on a dining plan, it’s two table service credits each. That being said though, its an all-inclusive meal; all you can eat food, served family style, with additional kids options, and all drinks are included, hello margaritas!

Big saving tip: while you wait to be shown into the restaurant, there’s a bar where you can buy drinks, but if you can hold off til you get inside, all drinks are available included in your meal, so don’t be tempted!

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So you get set up with some appetizers while the place is filling up, and once you’ve chowed down on those, the show begins! In an attempt to be more kid friendly, the show has a slight story to it of a luau dance school, which was kinda unnecessary I thought; you’re there to see some dancing!

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During a short interval, your mains are served up: pulled pork, ribs, roast chicken.. Fill your plates, they’ll bring more if you’re still hungry!

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The show covers traditional dances from several Polynesian islands: Tahiti, Tonga, New Zealand and of course hawaii, as well as a Samoan fire dancer! A nice, kid friendly touch was that the cast sang hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride for one of the dances, which Disney kids will know as the theme song from Lilo and Stitch; I thought that was pretty cool. There are also many opportunities for the audience to get up on stage and dance in the ‘birthday dance’ and ‘anniversary dance’; of course we sent up our happy couple..

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Overall, the show is a great way to sit back, relax, get some good food and enjoy some different entertainment, as well as having an opportunity to explore the Polynesian Resort in all its fabulous glory!

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180 days to go!

Can you believe it? We’re already at the 180 day mark! So..

Did I get my reservations you ask?

YEP.

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I was a bit back and forth between whether I should make them by phone or online; reservations open at 7am Eastern Time, which was midday here in the UK, but I thought I’d be a little cheeky and try and see if they opened earlier online, to no luck.. at first!

Yeah ok, I knew I was never gonna get away with it hours early, but as I was waiting for the clock to hit 12pm to dial the reservation line, I hit refresh on my browser at about 11.40 and BOOM, I was in!

Top priority was California Grill – its a fairly fancy place, very popular with regulars, and Dad really wanted to eat here, so any time would have been fine, but for me it was key to get a time that puts us there in time to watch Wishes from the viewing platform, and I’ve only gone and done it!

Our other booking scores were Teppan Edo and Beaches and Cream, both for lunch on the days we’ll be running in the morning – key refuelling!

Tomorrow, with any luck I’ll be booking us onto the Keys to The Kingdom Tour, and then we’ll be all set until Fastpasses become available in November!

EEEK

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Caribbean Beach Resort

I’m FINALLY getting round to writing my review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, a whole 9 months after our stay!

Location:

Caribbean Beach is basically bang-slap in the middle point of Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney, so after a late night in the parks, or exploring the nightlife of Downtown, you can enjoy the bonus of a short bus ride back to bed, but it does mean its quite a long haul to and from the Magic Kingdom!

It does, however, mean you are lucky enough to be able to catch the fireworks from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios from pretty much anywhere around the lake, and pretty much all of the many swimming pools!

Layout:

The resort is centred around Barefoot Bay, a huge lake surrounded by beaches and palm trees, and the rooms are split into six villages, each representing a different Caribbean island, and each with their own swimming pool at the centre, and own stop for the buses into the parks.

The resort’s reception is actually a little way away from the rooms themselves, on the other side of another small lake, so a bit of a trek for those staying at the other side of the resort, but there is an internal shuttle bus that runs around the outer rim of the resort.

The main hub of the resort is Old Port Royale, with its many food counters, souvenir shop, guest services and table service restaurant: Shutters. Just outside of Old Port Royale is the main swimming pool of the resort, equipped with towers and slides, perfect for families!

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Rooms:

We stayed in a standard room, which was nice enough considering we didn’t spend much time in our rooms at all. The rooms are equipped with a fridge, which was great for keeping snacks and drinks in, and there were two sinks, ideal for families.

If I’m being totally honest, I was a little disappointed with Mousekeeping.. When we first arrived there were no toiletries in the room, and it took a few calls and about a day and a half before this was rectified.

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Dining:

Old Port Royale has a number of food counters, serving a selection of food from snacks to burgers to pizza to burritos, and a great range of breakfast options.

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Activities:

As well as the seven swimming pools around the resort, there are endless activities on offer from evening movies by the pool and campfire marshmallow toasting, to bike rentals and pirate adventures. The path around Barefoot Bay is 1.2 miles for a scenic stroll or jog, and some of the beaches have volleyball facilities.

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Overall pros:

°o° At the lower end of the Moderate resort price range, its great value for money!

°o° Its pretty magical being able to see fireworks from the swimming pool!

°o° Close proximity to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney

°o° Great facilities for families with small children, especially with every room having a nearby pool

°o° Beautiful scenery and design!

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Overall cons:

°o° Its a large resort, so lots of walking to get around!

°o° Quite a long trip to and from the Magic Kingdom

°o° For a large resort, its often very busy and buses can be very crowded!

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