Let me preface my report by explaining that I live about 10 minutes from Disneyland and I have an Annual Pass. I’m also a former cast member and my sister is a current cast member.
I love Disneyland and go there often, but obviously we don’t need to stay at the hotels because we live in the area. So I’ve never had a “Disney Vacation”. We also never took real vacations growing up. If we went anywhere it was to visit family in the midwest, or it was a day trip. The first time I stayed in one of the hotels at the resort was the night of my wedding almost four years ago when we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel.
My husband and I were feeling desperate for some alone time. With his birthday coming up this week, we decided to stay the night at the Grand Californian Hotel.
We left our toddler with Gramma and went to have dinner and some alone time for the evening. We were going to do Blue Bayou but opted not to. We had a great date night, then went home to pick up our daughter to spend the night with us back at the hotel. It was so much fun, we let her walk around the hotel grounds a bit and showed her our room, then we went through the downtown disney entrance and got smoothies at Jamba Juice, which was so close to the hotel entrance(And they give a 10% AP discount!). We were able to just enjoy the room, watch the olympics and in the morning we got a room service breakfast. I think it was definitely worth the experience even though we live here.
We spent a little time in DCA, rode Little Mermaid and such, but this is where we got the best of both worlds because we left at about 2pm and our 16mo Guinevere was asleep before we were even off of Disneyland Drive. She napped for 2 hours when we got home!
But this little overnight “trip” has kind of opened my eyes to something I’d never experienced. When we walked from the hotel right into Downtown Disney, my husband said “Downtown Disney is the best downtown there is!” And then it hit me. That’s what Downtown Disney is for! In June we went to San Francisco for a conference and we stayed at a hotel that was “downtown” but we didn’t feel too comfortable walking around and it was not stroller friendly at all. Downtown Disney is like the “downtown” you would experience living in a city, but Disneyfied. I didn’t really get that before, as a local. It just seemed like a Disney adjacent mall(and it is that too).
This really made me want to experience this “on the premises” type vacation again, so much that I’m going to start planning a trip to Disney World in Florida, something I’ve never cared that much about before. But I really want to get that “resort” experience and I’d like to do it somewhere I don’t actually live. I didn’t appreciate until now how different the local experience is to the “resort guest” experience. Don’t take it the wrong way, I LOVE being a local. But I want to get that other experience too.