At Disneyland, luxury comes in a variety of services and experiences, all designed to make the resort visit more convenient, relaxed and enjoyable. And for the avid Disney fan, there are exclusive, over-the-top experiences that are available only at the California parks. A little bit of luxury at Disneyland can go a long way toward erasing memories of long lines and turkey legs.
If there is one luxury to indulge in at Disneyland, it’s the Disney MaxPass. It enhances the park experience by allowing guests to secure a Disney FASTPASS from the Disneyland phone app versus having to walk to each attraction to get a physical FASTPASS. Park tickets are easily upgraded to include Disney MaxPass, which comes with the FASTPASS option described, and the Disney PhotoPass, which links each photo taken by Disney photographers to your app and can be downloaded free of charge at the end of the visit.
TIP: Disney MaxPass only works inside the park, meaning that a FASTPASS cannot be reserved from the hotel or Downtown Disney.
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Staying two or three nights is a true luxury for families going to Disneyland. The visiting feels like a real vacation rather than a one-day test of endurance running through the parks, trying to pack it all in. Staying on-property allows parents and kids to take breaks during the day — and even go for a swim or a nap — and then head back out at night. This, combined with the Extra Magic Hour that hotel guests receive (allowing park entrance an hour early on select days) and the Disney MaxPass, mean that you might be able to experience the main park attractions in a half day and then have time to relax or ride again.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the premier hotel at Disneyland and the most convenient for park-goers, as it has a direct entrance into California Adventure and Downtown Disney. The hotel, modeled in the Arts & Crafts style with soaring ceilings and massive wood beams, is a respite from the busyness of the parks. Its recently refreshed rooms maintain its status as the best luxury option at Disneyland. The Club Level gives guests access to food and drinks all day, plus an outdoor patio with World of Color views. Very helpful concierges are on hand to assist with dining reservations and whatever else guests need.
Hamburgers, pizza and chicken tenders are standard amusement park fare, but when it’s time to call it a day, why not enjoy a nice dinner? Top choices at Disneyland include Carthay Circle in California Adventure, Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel and Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Reservations are a must if you want prime dining times, though there are often 5p slots available at all except Carthay Circle (always busy). These restaurants offer a focus on seasonal dining and more interesting kids’ options. Note that Carthay Circle has a no-reservation lounge that is an excellent choice when you want a nice meal in a casual setting.
Disneyland’s 21 Royal feels both extravagant and comfortable. It’s not a restaurant, but rather a dining experience for 12 guests. The location is at 21 Royal Street in New Orleans Square, above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, in a private residence originally conceptualized by Lillian and Walt Disney and finished in 2008. The two-bedroom structure feels intimate and almost lived-in, making the culinary experience at 21 Royal more like a dinner with friends rather than being served in a restaurant.
A dedicated staff creates a series of courses with hyper-seasonal ingredients, beginning with appetizers and drinks on the patio, moving to the elegant New Orleans-style dining room for dinner and ending on the balcony, which on certain nights features views of Disneyland fireworks and Fantasmic. Throughout the evening, guests experience touches of Disney magic in the apartment and in the culinary courses.
And because it’s Disney, there is always something that appeals to the child within. Dishes like butternut squash soup with shaved truffles or steak tartare might be complemented by mini cotton candy-wrapped caramel apples — a delight for any age, and part of why Disney continues to impress on every visit. An evening at 21 Royal costs $15,000 for up to 12 people.
Editor’s Note: Disneyland provided a media package for Kristi to experience the parks, though she is an avid fan and former Disneyland annual pass holder. As always, all opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos courtesy of Disneyland.
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