One of the most common questions seen in the Disneyland Forum of our message boards is "how far is it?" More specifically, people are trying to pick where to sleep during their Disneyland vacation and want to know if Hotel X is really closer than Hotel Y.
There are lots of reasons for picking a hotel. For some the Disney environment will always make staying at one of the Disneyland hotels worth premiums being paid. For others all that matters is getting the cheapest room so long as the bed bugs don't bite really hard. For me, I'll hapilly pay $10 extra to know that I won't have to shower in the dark since the only overhead light is on the other side of a very thick shower curtain.
All things being equal, though, a lot of people just want to know that at the end of 14 hours walking around Disneyland that the walk back to the hotel will be a few feet shorter than it might have been. Well, the information age we live in has given us the ability to apply some quantitative precision to the question.
The first tool in our arsenal is Google Maps. Google Maps itself is not a unique product; you can find plenty of tools out there that will provide mapped representations of our world, and others even provide the satellite imagery that so wows users. What Google Maps did provide, however, was an ease of use and quickness that pleased people. So here we have our base tool.
The second tool is something called Gmaps Pedometer (link). This awesome tool is an add-on that allows the creation of very specific routes to be drawn with Google Maps and provides very precise distance measurements. The original intent was for it to be used by runners to tracks precise mileage on their runs, but there is no reason it can't be used to measure any other course. Using Gmaps Pedometer, it is possible to compare the distance from various points around the Disneyland Resort.
But how accurate is it? To test this, I used it to measure a walk around the basepaths at McAfee Colisseum, home of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. The actual disctance is 360 feet and the distance I measured (link") was 357.5 feet. Close enough for government work, I'd say.
We haven't tried to present every area hotel here but you'll probably be able to find one near yours that gives you an approximate distance, and of course you can always use Gmaps Pedometer to find your own route. If you do make one, feel free to email it along and I'll to eventually add it to the list.
Some notes on the results follow the chart. All routes take you from the starting point to the middle of the Esplanade area between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. [Note: There are 5,280 feet per mile.]
|Hotel||From Closest Rooms||From Farthest Rooms|
|Best Western Park Place Inn||1,310 feet||1,825 feet|
|Anaheim Fairfield Inn||2,152 feet||2,618 feet|
|Howard Johnson's Anaheim||2,648 feet||3,063 feet|
|Candy Cane Inn||2,876 feet||3,415 feet|
|Anabella Hotel||3,578 feet||4,526 feet|
|Anaheim Sheraton||5,782 feet||6,412 feet|
Just a reminder that all figured are our best efforts but may be incorrect. If you have any information on better numbers or more accurate routes, let us know.
So, as you can see, while there is quite a variance between off-site hotels, the range really isn't that big for the Disneyland Main Gate hotels on Harbor and your room's location within the hotel can be more important than your hotel's location near Disneyland. The hotels will always advertise how close they are to Disneyland, but that is just how close the front of their building is. Most of the Harbor Boulevard hotels are long, narrow and pointed away from Disneyland. Regardless, though, your room is likely to be no more than three-quarters of a mile from the front gate of Disneyland, which even at the end of a long day probably isn't going to be that big of a deal.
Distances quickly increase, though, when you stay in hotels to the north or south of Disneyland (as with the Anabella or Anaheim Sheraton.
So how do the Disney-owned hotels stack up in terms of geographic convenience?
The Paradise Pier Hotel is very compact so it has the benefit that your room location is of relatively little importance. Despite appearances though, if you cut through the Grand Californian Hotel, you'll have a walk of around 2,454 feet (link) which puts it about on par with the Howard Johnson Anaheim and, surprisingly, with the Disneyland Hotel.
With three different towers, the Disneyland Hotel is a different beast on the room placement issues. A room in the back of the Bonita Tower will add about 800 feet over the closest room in the Marina Tower. The actual distances using the path through Downtown Disney range from 2,413 feet (link) to 3,158 feet (link).
So far this has revealed two surprising results. First, that both the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Hotel are about as long a walk as going to the Howard Johnson Anaheim. Second, if you use the shortest route from the Paradise Pier Hotel it isn't actually much farther away than the Disneyland Hotel. Of course, there is an intersection crossing to get from the Paradise Pier Hotel to the Grand Californian Hotel while the Disneyland Hotel walk will be entirely traffic free.
So how about the Grand Californian Hotel? Surely it is the best of all possible worlds when it comes to geographic location? Well, it depends. It depends on whether you're going to the park or whether you're returning to the room. Whether Disney's California Adventure park is open or whether it is closed. Whether you are aware of the lesser-known exits or whether you only know of the official routes.
The shortest walking distance between a room in the Grand Californian Hotel and the middle of the Esplanade is about 600 feet (link. Looking at that route, some of you may be perplexed about how it is done. That is because most people are unaware of a locked exit at the far end of the hotel wing nearest Disneyland.
Most guests are unaware of this, however, and since it is a locked door (that you can use to exit but not re-enter the hotel), you can't use it to return to your room. If you had the room with the shortest walk to Disneyland, your return trip through Downtown Disney would be 2,315 feet long (link). Put another way, it is possible for the Grand Californian Hotel room closest to Disneyland to require a walk as long as going out to the Anaheim Fairfield Inn behind the McDonald's on Harbor.
It bears repeating why we're going into such excrutiating detail here. We are in no way trying to say "this hotel is better than that hotel." There is no single factor that makes one hotel better than another for every person. This is simply a question that comes up a lot and so we're trying to answer it thoroughly.
And in so doing, I think we have highlighted that to a great degree the question is irrelevant. The hotels in the immediate vicinity of Disneyland are in a small geographic area and the differences in distance are mostly in the hundreds of feet. It could be worse; you could be at Walt Disney World. An extra 100 feet of walking back to your hotel room after Remember...Dreams Come True is nothing compared to when I felt every single foot in walking the half-mile between the lobby of Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort and our room at the far end of the complex. After running the marathon.