DLR- first timers, need hotel advice

So I’m going over my options for our trip next year… I’m a WDW purist- I want Disney experience from the time I set foot on the property, so I will never stay off site again. However, it seems DL seems different. Looking for experiences from other ppl who feel the same about staying on property at WDW and have also traveled to DLR… will I be missing Disney magic if we stay off site? It seems that DLR is an entirely different beast…and considering the fact that there are other hotels right next to the gate, the distance won’t be an issue like it would be at WDW.

The offsite hotels are very close, but I don’t think you will find the Disney magic there. If you want the pure Disney trip, stay onsite. It is well worth it! The Disneyland Hotel is Disney at its best. We have stayed offsite plenty as that equals multiple trips or much longer trips each year, but for a first and maybe only trip to DLR, go for onsite. You won’t regret it! The biggest issue I have with the offsite hotels is they are very old (like 1950-60’s) so the walls are thin, therefore can be quite noisy. You also must leave Disney property and as soon as you hit Harbor there are people begging and such. Not very Disney to me and I prefer not to see that on a trip. I don’t feel unsafe, it’s not that, it’s just can you imagine leaving the gates of MK and having people begging you for money as you head to the bus depot? Also, cast members will be leaving/arriving with you as they go to and from work. Just seems wrong to see a HM CM walking across Harbor! You never see that at WDW, but is the norm at DL. For those who love the full Disney experience and are willing to pay for it, onsite is the way to go. You get morning EMH every day as there is no evening EMH at DL. Good luck deciding!

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When we went we stayed at the Candy Cane Inn, one of DLR’s Good Neighbor hotels. It is so close it is like being on site (in fact, when you look at a map CCI’s property actually takes a little bite out of a corner of DCA by Cars Land). Great value, and no regrets about staying there.

Of our last 7 trips to WDW, 6 were onsite, so that’s definitely our preference. For DLR in April, we stayed at a great off-site hotel called the Park Vue Inn. It’s very reasonable, and the room we stayed in was recently updated. We could watch the fireworks from our window or go to the large balcony down the hall to watch. I loved it and would absolutely stay again. Yet, if I could afford to stay onsite, I probably would choose that. Not because it would substantially change the vacation, but just to increase that immersion feeling. Hope that makes sense.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this! And they walk in groups and chat amongst themselves! It was totally odd to me, but also kinda funny.

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Yes, very odd to me since I had been to WDW so many more times and had never seen anything like it.

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The magic of the Utiladors (and ample room for backstage areas).

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Yep! Love that magic!

We are also WDW vets (7 trps) and have only stayed inside the Disney bubble at WDW resorts. We took our first trip to DLR last March. We stayed at the DGC and loved it. Walking out of the hotel either into Downtown Disney or DCA definitely kept the in-the-bubble feeling.


We’re going back to the DLR next March and also staying inside the bubble at DGC again.

We always stay on site for two reasons: the magic factor and the early entry. We often get more seen and done in the first hour (early entry) than the next three hours put together. I have stayed at all 3 hotels in the last 2 years and enjoy them all. Both the Grand and the DL Hotel compare to deluxe resorts at WDW, while the Paradise Pier is closer to a moderate. The down side is of course the price – the onsite resorts are at least twice as pricey as the off-site, and in many cases they are the same distance from the parks. I will say that the off-site hotels have gotten much better over the years and the whole neighborhood feels much more ‘in the bubble’ than it used to, but it’s still not Disney, so for us we fork over the extra money. My next stay (October) will be at Paradise Pier – it’s a good compromise of on-site without the huge price tag.