To stay (Disney), or not to stay. That is the question!
The older I get, the more inclined I feel towards staying on property when visiting Disney Resorts.
While Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris offer a wider variety of hotels catering to all budgets, the lodging situation isn’t the same for Asian parks, making it quite pricey to stay on Disney property.
We’ve just booked our rooms in Toy Story Hotel for our family trip to Shanghai Disneyland which cost us an average of approximately US$200 per night per room, inclusive of the 15% government taxes. Keep in mind that Toy Story Hotel is meant to be a more affordable alternative to the mega-luxury-and-awe-inspiring Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.
The same is to be said about Tokyo Disney Resort’s newest addition to their hotel line-up, Celebration Hotel. An average night costs almost US$200, yet the hotel is marketed as “value option” to stay in a Disney-owned hotel. I don’t know about you but US$200 a night isn’t exactly “value” for a girl who works hard for her money. Yet, I’ve stay in Celebration Hotel twice in the past year. Why? Probably because I’m a little bit crazy.
Here are some considerations you might want to make if you’re looking at accommodation options:
1. Is it a special occasion?
Like I said, I’ve stayed at Celebration Hotel twice in the past year, and both times we were celebrating something special; my honeymoon with my husband and a friend’s birthday. When celebrating a special occasion, I find myself more eager to spend on a Disney hotel, simply because I want the magic to extend beyond park operating hours! There’s nothing more magical than leaving the park at the end of the day, and heading back to a hotel filled with touches of Disney.
2. Who is in your party?
Just a few years ago, I was completely fine with staying in the city area and travelling back and forth from the parks everyday. Over time, I’ve realised that it takes a truckload of energy to do that, especially if you’re heading to the parks on consecutive days. If it takes a toll on me, it’s bound to be more exhausting for my parents and young kids we might be travelling with.
These days, there’s nothing worse for me than leaving the parks, happy but tired, and knowing that you have an hour ride in packed trains before I can finally put my feet up for the day. I don’t have time for packed trains, I need my rest before hitting the parks again the next day at opening!
If circumstances prevent you from staying near the parks, consider purchasing individual day tickets rather than a multi-day pass, to ensure that everyone gets the rest they need during the days in-between.
Bonus tip: Tokyo Disney Resort offers express bus services to and fro Shinjuku Express Bus Terminal. I wrote about this in my previous post! Consider that as an alternative to trains if you’re staying in Shinjuku area! I personally consider trains a last option after a long day at the parks.
Disney hotels are also known to be extremely child-friendly, with special amenities and facilities for little ones, with some playing host to the best character dining experiences available. I still have awesome memories of staying in Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch in Paris.
3. Where in the trip is Disney?
Another important consideration would be when exactly are you doing the Disney leg. Reason being, in most cities, the Disney Resorts are located closer to the main international airport than the major city areas are. At least, this is the case for the 3 Asian parks.
If you’re planning to end your trip with a Disney bang, staying near the parks only make sense, since you’ll have a shorter journey to the airport! I’m not saying it’s the most advisable, since you might have spent most of your dough by then, but it’s definitely worth considering! Or you might even want to start the trip off with Disney!
If Disney is in the middle of your trip, and you would like to stay at a Disney hotel, I’d advise searching for storage options for your luggage so that you don’t have to lug them to and fro. Major train stations in Tokyo have giant lockers for this purpose. Alternatively, you could check with your hotel for the next leg of the trip if they could store your luggage until your check-in. Most hotels accommodate to such requests.
4. Lastly, how deep are your pockets?
Of course, budget is the biggest concern, as we’ve briefly touched on throughout this post. Most Disney resorts have Good Neighbor and Partner hotels that they feature on their official website. These hotels often offer sales of park tickets as well as shuttle services to the parks. Good Neighbor and Partner hotels may not always be cheaper than Disney’s own hotels, but can be an alternative if you’re looking to save some cash.
Hong Kong and Shanghai do not seem to have this information on their websites but you can search for hotels within the resort’s vicinity. A quick search online indicates that Discovery Bay, Ma Wan, Tsing Yi and Tsuen Wan are close to the Hong Kong Disneyland area. Those looking for accommodation near Shanghai Disneyland might want to search in the Pudong or Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone.
While hotels nearer to the parks may seem pricier at first glance, simply do the math by adding the daily cost of transport you’re expected to incur to the nightly room rate of your alternative accommodation within the city area. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re a family of 4 (with 2 kids aged 8 and 12) staying in Shinjuku, chances are you’d need two rooms since most Japanese hotel can only accommodate 2 guests. Honestly, I struggled to find a decent hotel room below US$200, thus making Celebration Hotel an immediate winner accommodating up to 4 adults in a room at less than US$200.
But I need to make this comparison, so I searched and searched, and found a decent hotel with a triple room at US$149 per night, located at Hatagaya station near to Shinjuku. The cheapest train ticket per person costs ¥520 (US$5), for a 56 minute journey. With the 12 year old being considered an adult and not eligible for the 50% fare that children 6-11 are eligible to, transport both ways for the family will cost approximately US$35, bringing the total night stay US$184, not including the aching feet and exhaustion that comes with travelling to and fro the parks. I personally would rather make investment of a couple of dollars to save myself the hassle.
Side note: Tokyo Disney Hotels are also much larger than their city-side counterparts and are often meant to accommodate larger families.
So there you have it, I hope this helps in your hotel decision-making process. Honestly, the way I see it, if you’re gonna make that trip halfway across the world for Disney, staying in a Disney hotel is always worth it!
Off to Disneyland!