Our Favorite Hotels within Walking Distance to Disneyland

When choosing a hotel to stay at for your Disneyland trip, a quick google search will result in dozens and dozens of options. How to pick?!

For our family, it usually comes down to these 3 criteria:

  1. Walking Distance. The first time we went to Disneyland, we had a 1, 3 and 6 year old. Our two youngest were still taking naps and we weren’t sure we wanted to have to rely on a shuttle to get us to and from the park. We liked that we could come and go as needed, although we ended up not going back to the hotel for naps like we thought (turned out our girls took great naps in the stroller!). Fast forward, now our youngest is 7 and we still prefer to stay within walking distance. We don’t have to worry about parking at Disneyland or paying for the ART (shuttle) to get us to and from the park.
  2. Affordable. For us, we want to stay somewhere that doesn’t break the bank so we can spend our money at Disneyland! Paying a few hundred less for an hotel means we can splurge a little bit more at the Park on food, souvenirs and more food. Always food.
  3. Family Friendly. That can mean a lot of different things, but for us it means that the 5 of us can sleep comfortably in one room and the hotel is clean.


So, which hotels do we stay at? Read on below to see!


Castle Inn

1734 Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802

Our kids love this hotel for obvious reason- it looks like a Castle! We like it because it often has special offers like pay 3 nights, get the 4th free. It is about a 20 minute walk from your hotel door to Disney’s entrance gate pushing a double stroller. Very doable. Our six year old easily walked the entire time. It is located on the South side of Disneyland along Harbor Blvd, along with many other hotels and food chains. They also updated the rooms a few years ago and have suites that can easily accommodate large families.

Breakfast Included: NO  Outdoor Pool: YES  Indoor pool: NO  Parking Fee: FREE for one car

Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort

1460 South Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92802

This is probably the closest non-Disney hotel to Disneyland. It is right across the street from the entrance, on Harbor Blvd, giving it about a 10 minute walk to the park.  This hotel consistently has low prices, but never really has deals or specials. They also have fun themed rooms and suites.

Breakfast Included: NO  Outdoor Pool: YES  Indoor Pool: NO  Parking Fee: $19 per day

Holiday Inn and Suites Anaheim

1240 S. Walnut Street  Anaheim, CA 92802

It’s no secret we are huge fans of Holiday Inn. They consistently provide quality rooms for great prices and offer great rewards to loyal customers. We love that this one is tucked behind Disneyland and our kids love that we can take the ‘secret’ entrance in to the Park. The secret entrance is really just the monorail located on the north side of Downtown Disney. After you’ve ‘activated’ your Disney ticket the first day, you can enter and exit the park here rather than walking all the way to the entrance. Time saver on those subsequent days for sure. It is about a 20 minute walk from the hotel to the Monorail entrance. A little extra if you walk through Downtown Disney and the enter through the main Disney gate. As the name suggests, they offer suites for large families included fun Disney-themed suites. We stayed in the Fairy room last time and our girls thought it was the coolest.

Breakfast Included: NO but kids eat free  Outdoor Pool: YES. They also have a splash pad. Indoor Pool: NO  Parking Fee: $12 per day

As always, to get the best deals, we always book with Getaway Today.  

During our travels, we usually do opt to stay at a hotel that also includes breakfast, however with our Disney trip, that isn’t a priority. Certainly there are many hotels that offer complementary breakfast, usually further away from Disneyland which means we can no longer walk, and sometimes with an increased cost associated. The main reason we don’t care if the breakfast is included is because we often arrive at the park early- 8 am. Rather than spend time eating breakfast at the hotel, we’d rather get to the park! What do you we do for breakfast? Well, we often bring things we can eat as we move: granola bars, protein bars, Bel Vita Crackers,  Go Gurts, fruit, trail mix etc.  All these hotels have mini fridges that can keep stuff cool, even if they don’t have full kitchens. Another reason we don’t care if the hotel serves breakfast is because we LOVE to have breakfast at Disneyland with Minnie and Friends on Main Street during our visit. The buffet is awesome!


So, what are your favorite hotels to stay at when visiting Disneyland?  What amenities or features do you look for?


Should We Purchase the MaxPass at Disneyland?

 We waited no longer than 30 minutes at Disneyland in the Summer!!  How? Read below!

Yes! It’s true. Our family visited our favorite place in August 2017 and initially we were hesitant about visiting during what we consider a very busy time of year. In fact, we’ve never visited in the summer because we avoid those crowds at all costs. BUT it was the only time we could go. And when given the choice between Disney or NO Disney- we always choose Disney! Rather than park hopper tickets, we decided to just spend one day at each park (which is that we usually do. We prefer the ‘one park per day’ tickets.)  We only had two days and to maximize our time, we decided to give Disney’s new MaxPass a try!

SO, WHAT IS DISNEY’S MAXPASS? The quick answer is that MaxPass is Disney’s fastpass system accessible through the app on your cell phone!

DOES IT COST MONEY?  While the Disney App is free, the MaxPass does cost $10 PER PERSON. For our family of 5, it cost $50 per day ($100 since we spent two days total).

IS IT WORTH IT? YES! During peak time at Disneyland we were able to avoid lines and really enjoy all the rides and attractions without any issues.

IS ANYTHING ELSE INCLUDED WITH IT? Yes! Disney’s PhotoPass is also included in that price. We were thrilled to have access to this awesome feature- no more asking random strangers to take your group shots. Disney’s photographers are there for that- and don’t forget those awesome magic shots (our family’s favorite! We love getting those and seeing surprise Disney characters show up in our pictures.) You can also download and share photos from select dining locations, attractions, and Character Greetings.

See our MAXPASS Schedule below!

California Adventure Photo Magic at Disneyand

Here is what our time at the Happiest Place looked like with the MaxPass:

Disneyland – August 14

9:00 a.m. Monorail
9:20 Inside Disneyland
9:30 Astro Blasters and Space Mountain separately
10:00 Astro Blasters again (Max pass temporarily stopped working)
10:15 (Max passes working again, pulled Matterhorn for starting at 10:40)
10:26 Snow White
10:40 Casey Junior
11:06 Matterhorn (MaxPass) – Pulled Max Pass for Indiana Jones for starting at 1:15
11:20 Rider Switch at Matterhorn
11:30 It’s a Small World
Noon Made reservations for Orleans Café
12:06 Winnie the Pooh
12:30 Eating at Orleans – Pulled MaxPass for Splash Mountain at 12:32
1:00 Splash Mountain
1:40 Haunted Mansion
2:05 Indiana Jones
2:15 Rider Switch at Indiana Jones
2:30 River Cruise
2:36 Meet Moana
2:35 Indiana Jones again (Bigger kids)
2:45 Tarzan House (Little kid)
2:55 Pirates of the Caribbean
3:30 Tarzan House again
3:41 River Jungle Cruise again
4:00 Take a rest and save seats for parade
Quick Tiki treat
4:30 Watch parade
5:00 Peter Pan
5:32 Finally ride Peter Pan after technical difficulty
5:42 Mr. Toads Wild Ride
6:15 Storybook Island
6:30 Alice in Wonderland
6:53 Pinocchio
7:20 Pirates of the Caribbean
7:48 Dinner Bengals Barbeque
8:30 Parade (should have gone earlier but still got a decent spot on the side of Tomorrowland)
9:20 Pulled MaxPass for Star Tours and rode 10 minutes later
9:38 Autotopia (5 minute wait)
10:03 Finding Nemo
10:30 Done with Nemo – half asleep
10:44 Matterhorn
10:50 Monorail

MaxPass on Grizzly River Rapids

California Adventure – August 15

10:20 Inside California Adventure – Pulled MaxPass for Radiator Springs Racers for starting at 12:20
10:25 Grabbed World of Color MaxPass
10:30 Grizzly River Run (10-minute wait in standby line)
10:55 Registered for Avenger Training
11:05 Monsters Inc.
11:15 Jeff waited to meet Spider Man; Emily and kids rode Monsters Inc. again
11:45 Met Spider-Man – Pulled Toy Story MaxPass
11:50 Bug’s Life – Meimlich
12:05 Bumper Bugs
12:20 Radiator Springs Racers (bit of a wait – not more than 30 though)
1:00 Lunch at Flo’s — pulled MaxPass for Guardians of the Galaxy for between 5:15 and 6:15
1:35 Toy Story
2:00 Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
2:15 Bus Life again
2:30 Jeff in line for Frozen play
3:00 Frozen play
4:00 Pulled Max Pass for Screamin’ California
4:15 Screamin’ California
4:20 Check-in at Avenger Training
4:45 Avenger Training – Kids on stage – Pulled MaxPass for Toy Story for starting at 7:55
5:02 Guardian of Galaxy (down to three cars – slow 30 minute wait)
6:15 Watch Pixar water parade in shade (Emily saved seats while we were at Guardian)
6:46 Tow Mater
7:02 Luigi’s dance
7:29 MaxPass on Soarin’
8:10 Kids and Emily ride toy story, while Jeff save seats for World of Color
8:30 Kids and Emily ride King Tristan’s carousel
9:00 World of Color

World of Color with MaxPass

The Long Answer to what exactly is Disney’s Max Pass is that any ride that has a FastPass  option, you can ‘reserve’ your spot through your phone. Instead of running around to each of the FastPass rides and scanning your ticket to reserve your spot, you simply reserve it on your phone! The cool thing is that when you open the app to reserve your spot, you can see what the available FastPass options are. Some you may be able to reserve and ride almost immediately! It is quite efficient! It’s important to note that ONLY rides with FastPass options are available in the MAX pass option- so if ride (like Peter Pan) doesn’t have a FastPass option in person, it won’t have a MaxPass option either.

Here are a list of the current FASTPASS Ride Options:

Disneyland Park
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Indiana Jones™ Adventure
“it’s a small world” Holiday
Matterhorn Bobsleds
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
Space Mountain
Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
Splash Mountain
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure Park
Goofy’s Sky School
Grizzly River Run
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark
Radiator Springs Racers
Soarin’ Around the World
Toy Story Midway Mania!
World of Color

How to Purchase and Use Disney MaxPass If You Have Tickets:
1. Download the Disneyland app.
2. Enter the park you wish to visit using your tickets. ***This is an important step.  You MUST be inside the park to purchase the MaxPass. ***
3. Open the Disneyland app.
4. Tap the circular character icon at the bottom of the screen.
5. Sign in with your Disney account.
6. Tap “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass”.
7. Select all Guests in your party who wish to use the Disney MaxPass feature—if someone is not listed, link their ticket or pass.
8. Purchase the Disney MaxPass feature for any Guests who do not already have it.
9. Make your FASTPASS selections and enjoy your Disney PhotoPass downloads.

Other Disney questions you may have:

Where is the best deal to buy Disney Tickets?  Our favorite place that always has the very best deals is Getaway Today!  It is the only place we buy our Disney Tickets. Not only do they have the best deal, they have the best customer service. We accidentally reserved our tickets for the wrong weekend (my bad! In my excitement I didn’t double check our dates). Not a problem for Getaway Today, though. They quickly worked with Disney to get our tickets ready for us. If you have any questions or issues, give them a call. They frequently visit the parks and nearby hotels and can give you a personal account and help answer any questions you might have!  We also buy our Character Dining Vouchers from them. For more information on Character Dining at Disney, check out our post about that here.

Where is the best place to stay? Well, it really is just a matter of preference, but we prefer to stay as close to the parks as we can for cheapest price we can find. For more details on where we like to stay, check out our post on that here.

Mickeys Halloween Party

Halloween Fun at Disneyland

What could be happier than the Happiest Place on Earth?  The Happiest Place on Earth at Halloween!!  Disneyland at Halloween is our family’s FAVORITE time to visit!  Disney and Halloween=magic! (Note this post was from 2015 and there have been a number of changes to Disney’s Halloween Celebration, but the fun is still the same).

Halloween at Disneyland



So what is Mickey’s Halloween Party and is it worth it? It’s the main reason we go at Halloween and YES, it is worth it! It is a special Halloween Party held inside the Disneyland Park from about the last week of September to October 31st. It requires a separate ticket from your regular Disney park tickets. All guests of the party are given a special wristband and park officials close the party to all other guests (if you don’t have a wristband, you will have to leave the Disneyland park. Note: California Adventure remains open for those who aren’t attending the party. And yes, they really check to make sure that only those with wristbands are in the park.) Tickets typically go on sale in July and usually sell out. Tickets prices range from $72-$99 per person. Weekday tickets are usually less expensive than weekend tickets. Hours vary, but typically weekday hours are from 6 to 11 p.m. and weekend ticket hours are from 7 p.m. to Midnight. Disney opens the gates to party guests 3 hours before the party starts (3 or 4 p.m.) That’s another reason we go on a weekday–with young kids we feel we get the most bang for our buck going as early as possible. We also don’t try to overdo it by going to the park that day with our regular tickets. We sleep in, take our time getting ready (costumes are a must for adults and children!) and show up an hour before they open the gates for Halloween Party guests (about 2 pm). That way we are well-rested and ready to play!

There are lots of spook-tacular activities including:

1- Frightfully Fun Parade

This parade includes some favorite Disney villains as well as Minnie and Mickey and pals all decked out for Halloween. Disney usually does at least 2 showings of this parade– one earlier in the evening and one later. TIP: If attending with little kids, it’s great to attend the earlier one, usually around 6 or 7 p.m., before they get too tired. Look for the parade times in your special Halloween Map when you enter the park. The parade was updated in 2016 and if it’s even possible, is better than before! Although we are huge fans of the original Halloween Parade. And yes, you can only see this parade during the party! It is not the same parade that runs during the day.

2- Special trick-or-treat stations

The trick-or-treat station provide candy and healthy goodies. Be sure to bring your own bags- we’ve yet to make it to every station, and our reusable grocery bags are nearly full every time! They have everything from name-brand candy to sliced apples, raisins, baby carrots, etc. We like to get a mix of both! TIP: We always schedule the Halloween Party at the beginning of our Disney trip (Monday or Tuesday) and then the rest of the week we have lots of snacks leftover from the trick-or-treating to eat while waiting in line for rides, walking around, for the drive home, etc.

Halloween at Disneyland Trick or Treating at Disneyland Halloween at Disneyland

3- Halloween Screams

This boo-tiful fireworks show, is presented exclusively for Mickey’s Halloween Party Guests, weather permitting.

4- Virtually NO lines for all attractions, including Halloween-themed attractions

Access to nearly all attractions, including Halloween-themed attractions like Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday. And the rides have nearly NO wait time during the party as everybody is trick or treating or doing other festivities. We love taking advantage of this and spend much of our time on rides.

Image credit: Disney Parks Blog


5- Special Disney Halloween Food!

Disney often has special holiday treats only available during the Halloween season. From super yummy mummy caramel marshmallow sticks, pumpkin beignets, to the most adorable caramel apples you will ever see- they almost look too good to eat. Almost. These treats are available for purchase anytime, not just during the Halloween Party.

Here are some of the special food Disneyland has offered over the past few years:

Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland

  • Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue

Sugar Cookie Bake dusted with powdered sugar and a cinnamon-orange mulling spice, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce

  • Café Orleans

Flat Iron Steak with Peppercorn and Cognac Sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash and green beans
Pumpkin Beignets served with vanilla crème Anglaise (SOOOOOO good!!)

Grilled Flat Iron Steak – Served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, haricots vert, peppercorn cognac sauce
Butterscotch Beignets

  • Carnation Café

Mickey’s Frightfully Spicy Chicken Sandwich – Fried chicken served with pepper jack cheese, spicy Sriracha sauce, coleslaw and breaded and fried jalapenos served on a brioche bun with a side of French fries

Blackened Spicy Chicken Sandwich

  • French Market Restaurant

Haunted Mansion Cake
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Traditional Shrimp Po’Boy – Deep fried popcorn shrimp, lettuce, tomato, vinegar dressing and Cajun remoulade sauce on a toasted potato roll

Cookies & Cream Mousse Coffin Cake
Butterscotch Beignets

  • Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

Halloween Premium Cone

  • The Golden Horseshoe

Ice Cream Nachos
Halloween sprinkles

  • Hungry Bear Restaurant

Apple Pie Funnel Cake
Pulled Pork Hot Dog – Topped with citrus slaw, fried jalapenos and fresh cilantro

  • Jolly Holiday Bakery Café

Bat Mickey Cookie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Muffin
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie
Maple Creme Brulee
Spiced Bundt Cake
Caramel Eclair
Holiday Brownie
S’mores Bar
Chocolate Hazelnut Mickey-Shaped French Macaron
Corn Chowder Soup
Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • Maurice’s Treats

Pumpkin Twist
Mint Julep Bar

Pumpkin Beignets

  • Plaza Inn

Pumpkin Pie

  • Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante

Pork Tamale and Cheese Enchilada
Orange Pumpkin Flan

  • Royal Street Veranda

Banana Fritters with crème Anglaise

And throughout Disney you can find:

Candy Corn Cotton Candy (Our kids loved this!)
Poison Apple Stein – Served with fruit, beverages or ice cream sundae (yummy! It’s often still hot in California in October and this was a refreshing drink!)
Vampire Mickey Popcorn Bucket (And we still have our bucket!)
Zero Popcorn Bucket
Halloween Hot Mug

Are you hungry now?  Haha- nothing quite like Disney goodness. For all food Disney, visit their Blog for the latest tastiest treats.

Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland

Images credit: Disney Park Blog 


6- Halloween photos with your favorite characters

Photo locations with popular Disney Pals and legendary Disney Villains, often dressed up in their Halloween costumes. These characters are spread throughout the park, but typically the villains are on Main Street USA. Check your map for more details. These lines can be very long, especially early on. We waited nearly an hour to see Winnie the Pooh and friends, which, at the time, was super important to our two young daughters. TIP: Try greeting the characters later in the evening (7:30 or later) when the lines seem to die down.

Halloween at Disneyland Halloween at Disneyland Halloween at Disneyland

7- Spooktacular In-Room Surprises

When you stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel room, you’ll be treated to Spooktacular in-room surprises. Can you imagine how magical this would be?!

If you’re visiting during Mickey’s Halloween Party, you can make your stay in a Disneyland Resort hotel an even more magical with a personalized Halloween In-Room Celebration, Mickey’s Spooktacular Halloween Celebration.

Imagine walking up to your hotel room to discover a spooky door banner indicating something special took place inside. As you step into the room, a host of personalized surprises, goodies, and treats make you feel like Mickey himself has visited.

For more, including costume guidelines, visit Disneyland’s official Halloween website.

Any one else been to Disneyland during Halloween? What are your Halloween tips and tricks for Disneyland? We’d love to know!