The Marriott Courtyard at Disneyland that costs up to $700 and is valet-only
As a veteran travel writer and editor, I've stayed at hundreds of hotels, including plenty of Courtyard by Marriott properties, yet none have been quite like my recent stay at the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance.
Here, valet is your only parking option and standard rooms cost up to $700 per night. Let me say that again — you can shell out as much as $700 to spend the night in an entry-level room on seemingly normal nights at a Courtyard.
Not every night is this expensive, but it's safe to say that you can expect to pay more than what you'd spend at your typical Courtyard by Marriott hotel. I was certainly shocked, at least initially, by the price.
But, in fairness, this California Courtyard outpost is far from typical, as it sits less than 1,000 steps from the gates of Disneyland. Anything near a Disney bubble tends to be pricey. This is especially true for Disneyland since there are only three hotels that are official Disney properties: the Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel.
All three of these on-property hotels can be great places to stay while at the Happiest Place on Earth.
However, unlike vacations at Disney World in Florida, there are fewer trade-offs when going to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim and choosing a slightly off-property hotel. That's mostly because the area is so much more compact, making it possible to be a short walk away from the parks while staying off-property.
After previous trips to the area that have included trying out the Fairfield Anaheim Resort and the Westin Anaheim Resort, which were both solid options within walking distance of the parks, I was curious to see what all the fuss was about with regard to the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance hotel.
I've heard from many Disneyland regulars over the years that this is the best place to stay off-property, assuming it fits with your budget. But could a Courtyard really be worth so many hundreds of dollars per night? Is its miniature water park cool enough to entice you to spend a few hours going down waterslides instead of exploring the parks a little longer?
After ponying up around $500 for a one-night stay, I was ready to find out. Here's what you need to know about the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance to decide whether it might be the best hotel for your next trip to Disneyland.
It's a short stroll from Disneyland
Location is everything when it comes to choosing the best hotel for your Disneyland trip (or, more accurately, any big theme park vacation). The day often starts so early and involves walking so many miles that the last thing you need is a big commute to and from your hotel.
While the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance isn't the closest hotel to Disneyland, it sits on adjacent Harbor Boulevard. When we recently visited the parks, it took us around 1,000 steps to get to the parks from the hotel, which was roughly a 10-minute walk at my 7-year-old's pace. This makes it pretty easy to get there for rope drop in the morning — or even take afternoon breaks — without exhausting yourself.
Booking link: Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance
There's an on-site water park just for hotel guests
Let's start with a major highlight: the water park.
This Courtyard outpost takes advantage of its Southern California location with its Surfside Waterpark, an impressive water park on the second floor of the hotel. It features 30-foot-long waterslides, a 17-person hot tub, a play area with a 400-gallon drench bucket, water cannons and fountains, among other amenities.
To help control crowding, reservations are required. Reservations are available starting at 9 a.m. and can be made until 10 p.m. You can book one two-hour slot for your room per day without paying a fee.
I cannot tell you how much my 7-year-old loved this water park. It's designed in a way that lets kids enjoy it safely without parents hovering (and having to get wet), so it ended up being a highlight of our stay. This amenity alone would make us want to stay here again.
Related: Disneyland vs. Disney World: Which is the better park to visit?
Every room sleeps at least 6 people
You've probably caught on that this is not your average Courtyard. In fact, I'd say that for a family it was possibly the most well-designed use of space in a mostly standard hotel room that I've ever seen in all my years of traveling.
Every room at the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance has bunk beds, so each space can comfortably sleep up to six people. That alone may save you from having to pay for two rooms at another hotel and could make the price more palatable.
Even if you don't technically need sleeping space for six people (as was the case for my family of four), you'll have a much more comfortable arrangement here than if you chose a typical accommodation where everyone is doubled up in two standard beds.
Plus, in the corner of the room, there's a booth that serves as both a great place to work or draw and a clutch spot for in-room meals. This is particularly useful on theme park days when you're scrambling to get the family ready to head out early.
There are 2 showers in the rooms, too
Entry-level rooms at this Courtyard are not only ideal for sleeping; they also have an ingenious bathroom design that includes two showers in different sections of the bathroom. In the vanity portion is a tub/shower combo, while the room with the toilet has a stand-up shower.
This means your family can get through bath or shower time twice as quickly thanks to having an extra option available.
The service was on par with luxury brands
Every request we had at this hotel was not only met but exceeded.
Our stay was brief, but when one of our kids was not feeling well, the staff at the on-site restaurant, The Bistro, willingly tweaked the menu so our daughter could enjoy a plain peanut butter sandwich.
When we asked for a late checkout — a perk I'm in theory entitled to as a Marriott Bonvoy member with Platinum Elite status but don't always get — it was immediately offered all the way to 4 p.m. which is not common, even when it is supposed to be.
It wasn't just that our requests were accommodated during our brief stay. Everyone we met always addressed our requests in a way that was exceedingly polite, thoughtful and intuitive — an approach that's hard to find these days, even at some high-end properties.
The Courtyard's team went above and beyond on the seasonal decor, too, creating a spooky (but not too scary) ambiance that really set the tone for the many guests visiting Disneyland for its Halloween-themed Oogie Boogie Bash.
A decent selection of food is available
While you're a stone's throw away from options like Panera and McDonald's and about a 10- to 15-minute stroll from Downtown Disney's restaurants, sometimes all you want is a quick bite to eat without straying far from your room. Fortunately, the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance has a few options on-site, including a casual American restaurant, a 24-hour market and a Starbucks.
With my Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, I received a $20 food and beverage credit, so I decided to put it to use at the property's dining venue, The Bistro. The kids menu had affordable options such as chicken fingers, cheeseburgers and quesadillas, each of which cost $6.50. Meanwhile, the adult menu had options like a 12-inch pizza for $15, crispy Brussels sprouts for $6 and grilled cheese and tomato soup for $11, plus a selection of wine and beer.
Despite the lack of traditional room service, you can call The Bistro from your room to place your order. Once your order is ready, the restaurant staff will call you back to let you know to come grab your food to take to your room or the lobby to eat. Since this pick-up option comes without the room service fees hotels usually charge and only requires a quick trip downstairs, it's a convenient option we took advantage of during our stay.
Overall, the food we tried wasn't spectacular, but we had no complaints. Our grab-and-go breakfast a few days later at the quick-service counter at Disney's Grand Californian cost more than $60 for the four of us, so the Courtyard's much lower price range per dish was much appreciated.
Related: The best restaurants at Disneyland
It might be the most expensive Courtyard in the US
Given its solid selection of amenities, especially when compared to other Courtyard properties, this Anaheim outpost charges more than what you may expect.
While lots of nights are in the $300 to $400 range (which still isn't cheap), there are popular dates when standard rooms sell for $600 to $700 per night before taxes and fees are factored in.
And no, we are not talking about sky-high prices on a random night once every few years when there's a Super Bowl or similar event in town. We're referring to busy periods at nearby Disneyland, such as the winter holidays.
Is it the most expensive Courtyard in the country? That I can't say for sure, but it's certainly one of the priciest locations I've ever come across, so prepare your budget accordingly.
Related: 3 reasons I continue to chase Marriott Platinum status year after year
The only parking option is valet
When I pulled up to the front door of the hotel to unload the luggage and let my family head inside, I asked the friendly hotel staffer where I could find self-parking since I hadn't seen any signs. Turns out, I hadn't missed a sign; I was informed that the hotel only has valet parking.
Even the fanciest Disneyland hotel, Disney's Grand Californian, has a self-parking option, so imagine my surprise at learning that a Courtyard, of all places, was valet-only. While this wasn't a cost I was expecting to pay, it's fortunately comparable to what you'll pay at Disneyland. The property's valet parking set me back $35 for my one-day stay, the same amount charged to self-park at Disneyland.
Know, though, that if you don't take your car out on checkout day by 4 p.m., you'll get charged another $35 for daily parking, so be sure to move your car before you head to the parks if you're planning on staying in the parks late that last day. If you're visiting the Disneyland parks your entire stay, you may want to price out ride-hailing services instead of renting a car, as you may end up spending less.
You can use Marriott Bonvoy points
If you're sitting on a stash of Marriott Bonvoy points, you're in luck, as you don't need to spend hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars to stay at the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance. Instead, you can redeem your Marriott points (or free night certificates) to cover the cost of your room.
Based on my searches, staying here will require spending anywhere from 50,000 to 74,000 Marriott points per night for a standard room. And yes, as you may expect, lots of nights during the fall and winter months — especially around the holidays — cost at least 70,000 points per night.
To find more affordable days for award nights, use Marriott's flexible date calendar. It's particularly helpful if you are looking to use a 50,000-point certificate (which you'll likely need to top off with some extra points).
Don't forget that if you happen to have (or sign up for) the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, it comes with both Platinum Elite status and an annual award night worth 85,000 points. Given the high cost of redemptions here, you may want to consider using your certificate when you stay, as it should cover most nights here.
Related: The best Marriott credit cards
There are plenty of hotel options around Disneyland, whether you're looking to stay on property or slightly farther away.
While there isn't one best hotel for every Disneyland trip, the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance exceeded my high expectations in almost every category. I'd absolutely stay there again ... but preferably when cash rates are at the lower end of the spectrum.
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